Another Read for LRHunting regulars
HOPE THIS ARTICLE MIGHT BE OF INTEREST TO SOME OF THE GUYS HERE.
10,000 ROUND TEST
H-S Precision Shoots a Tough Test
Doug Hardesty has a job that many serious shooters dream about. He runs the underground ballistic lab for H-S Precision in Rapid City, South Dakota. Doug conducts a wide variety of ballistic and shooting tests, proofs every new rifle built and he shoots the quality control tests that every new H-S Pro-Series 2000 rifle must pass. Needless to say Doug loves his work. He particularly enjoys the wide range of tasks and challenges that accompany every new day. With quiet professionalism Doug handles anything that the quality control or R&D folk hand him. After almost a dozen years with H-S Precision Doug has seen it all, from making composite stocks, drilling and rifling precision barrels to assembling super-accurate rifles.
Doug recently carried out an interesting project. He and H-S management personnel wanted to determine how their rifle would function during the firing of 10,000 rounds also to assess the accuracy of their cut-rifled barrel during such an extreme amount of shooting. The plan was to shoot 3-shot test targets after each thousand rounds went through the barrel. This would provide an assessment of barrel life and indicate changes in accuracy that occurred as thousands of rounds went through the bore.
H-S Precision Rifle Models
The rifle selected for the test was a brand new H-S Precision Pro-Series 2000 HTR heavy tactical rifle in .308 Winchester caliber. A Leupold VariXIII 3.5-10x40 mm Long Range M3 tactical scope was mounted in the new H-S-Precision tactical mounts. H-S Precision catalogs three tactical rifles, the HTR (heavy tactical rifle), the RDR (rapid deployment rifle) and the TTD (tactical take-down rifle). These are state of the art tactical rifles, the differences being barrel length, stock design and obviously the take-down feature. The tactical rifles are available in a variety of calibers but the venerable .308 Winchester is by far the most popular chambering.
In addition H-S Precision offers three sporter models. The SPR (Sporter Rifle), the PHR (Professional Hunter Rifle) and the VAR (Varmint Rifle). The SPR is the standard offering and it is available in almost any popular caliber. The PHR is a slightly heavier version, about seven and three-quarters to eight and one-quarter pounds, and it is chambered for some of the heaviest, longest cartridges. The VAR is a typical varminter, with a medium heavy fluted barrel and heavier contour stock and it is available in a take-down variant.
The H-S Action
Several years ago Tom Houghton Sr. decided that H-S Precision would design and build their own rifle action. Tom and his design team did the obvious, borrow proven designs from some of the most successful rifles in history. Then they added a few updates and increased manufacturing tolerances to take advantage of current CNC machining capabilities. The Pro-Series 2000 therefore resembles a Remington Model 700 action with a Winchester Model 70 safety and bolt release. One unique option was the development of a truly reliable, robust take-down design that has proven so repeatable that H-S guarantees the same accuracy standards as for the non-takedown rifles.
The action is a basic push-feed design, with a semi-cone bolt head that features a claw extractor and plunger ejector in the bolt face. A steel tipped aluminum firing pin ensures fast lock time. The bolt handle is nicely shaped and placed for fast repeat shots. When the action is cocked a small red dot becomes visible on the section of the striker that protrudes from the bolt shroud. The red dot disappears into the shroud when the action is fired or un-cocked. The Pro-Series 2000 is manufactured in two action lengths that handle virtually any cartridge design. The barreled action is made of stainless steel and protected by an excellent baked-on Teflon finish. Naturally H-S Precision composite stocks and cut-rifled barrels are standard on every rifle.
Getting back to the barrel test. H-S Precision obtained the necessary 10,000 rounds of ammo from Winchester in late autumn of 2000. Fifty cases were hauled down to Doug's underground lab and neatly piled against a wall. The ammo was standard Winchester 150 grain Power Point soft point ammo, the same as hunters might use in their favorite deer rifle. Doug relied on the superb accuracy of Federal Gold Medal 168 grain match ammo for accuracy assessments.
10,000 Round Test Procedure
In mid October, 2000, Doug took the rifle and carefully broke in the barrel. He did a standard break-in involving firing a shot, thoroughly cleaning the barrel and then firing another shot and more cleaning. After a dozen shots he went to two shots and cleaning then up to five shots. He shot another couple of hundred rounds to thoroughly get used to the rifle, then started the 10,000 round shooting test. Doug described the shooting and cleaning routine that developed as being one that the average shooter might follow.
Working by himself he loaded two magazines with three rounds each and fired them into the backstop in the 100 yard indoor range. Although he had to reload mags every six shots Doug found that the barrel became very hot after forty rounds. Not wanting to abuse the barrel by getting it excessively hot, Doug came up with the idea of cooling it with CO2. After testing the idea with some small canisters of the gas, Doug was so impressed that he arranged for a large 100 pound cylinder of CO2 to be hauled down to the shooting bench. This cooling greatly increased his daily shooting capability.
While all this was going on Doug stayed on top of all of the other tasks that he normally carried out. Between test firing new rifles, trouble-shooting customer's rifles, ballistic work and handling anything that came his way, Doug had a very busy two months. As the shooting progressed Doug was able to maintain a firing rate of approximately 750 rounds per day.
Every one hundred rounds the barrel was cleaned with several patches moistened in Hoppes #9 solvent. Every two hundred and fifty to three hundred shots the barrel was given a good brushing with a bronze brush soaked in Hoppes #9 and then a patch soaked with Sweets, in an effort to minimize copper fouling build-up. After the Sweets, Doug ran several solvent-soaked patches down the bore. He then dried the bore with two or three plain patches. The bolt lug recesses were cleaned and lightly oiled and the forward faces of the locking lugs was lubed. Doug also placed a small dab of grease on the base of the bolt handle where the cocking action takes place.
When he arrived at each thousand round plateau Doug gave the barrel a thorough cleaning prior to firing the three shot test group. Ensuring that the barrel was fouled he took his time and carefully recorded the size of each group. Beside the shooting bench is a T.V. monitor with the capability to measure group size and print out a copy of the group, complete with measurement details. Each printout was placed into a binder for future reference.
Evaluating All the Parts of the Rifle During the Test
To maximize the evaluation of all parts of the rifle Doug only used two magazines and fed all of the ammo through the mags rather than simply placing each round on the follower. This resulted in a 5000 round test of each magazine and they worked well throughout the shooting. In addition the safety was cycled into each of its three positions after every third shot and again the safety functioned perfectly. After the tests Doug suggested a slight modification to the shape of the safety which has been incorporated in current production rifles. The M-70 type wing safety has been brought even closer to the shape of the original Winchester design.
Since a fired Winchester cartridge case weighs about 171.5 grains, Doug ended up with slightly over 245 pounds of brass in five heaping plastic buckets. During the test he also sent 214 pounds of bullets into the traps and he had to clean out the catch basin a couple of times during the shooting. I pulled the bullets out of several .308 Winchester 150 grain Power Point cartridges and they contained 44.5 grains of ball powder. That means Doug would have burned over 63 pounds of powder.
I visited the H-S plant on February 23, 2001 and discussed the 10,000 round test with Doug Hardesty. Doug had brought the actual test rifle down to his range "office" and we examined it closely. Externally the only indication of a lot of use was the extreme polished surfaces on the bolt handle and knob, and the severe beating that spent cartridges had done to the teflon coating in an area of the receiver just ahead of the bolt handle cutout. Like many push-feed actions the Pro-2000 has a tendency to flip the fired cartridge case in an outward arc causing the brass to strike a small area on the right side of the receiver. The action was very smooth, not loose feeling, but butter smooth as a result of the thousands of cycles that had been completed. The barrel crown was perfect, and although we did not put a bore scope down the barrel Doug assured us that the lead was burned out for several inches ahead of the chamber.
Just to see what the rifle how the rifle was still shooting I asked Doug to fire a group. He agreed but said that the bore was pretty worn and it required several fouling shots before it would shoot a group. Doug then shot five or six Winchester 150 grain rounds down the bore and then tried three Federal Gold Medal rounds on paper. The group was over two inches, but he confidently said that the bore should be fouled enough to start shooting. He advanced the electronic target carrier and proceeded to shoot three shots into 0.698 inches. Not bad for a well worn barrel!
Wear and Tear on the Rifle
The 10,000 round shooting test was NOT shot under any special conditions that would ensure positive results for the H-S Precision rifle. Doug shot with a uniform procedure but he did not try to spare the barrel from excessive heat, nor did he give it special cleaning attention. In fact he encountered a couple of problems, no doubt brought on by the extraordinary amount of use in such a short time. At about 1500 rounds the extractor began slipping and cases were not fully removed from the chamber. Doug replaced the exactor at this point although the cleaning probably resolved the problem. This was easily fixed by a good cleaning. At 6500 rounds the ejector also acted up, failing to flip spent brass clear of the receiver. Again a good cleaning remedied the problem as minute brass chips from cartridge rims were impeding the movement of the plunger.
Results of the Big Test
Let's look at the results of the 10,000 round shooting test. As can be seen, the HTR was an inherently accurate rifle from the beginning. The initial target was a three-shot 0.203 inch group, sub one-quarter of a minute! Three shot groups do not hold up to statistical requirements for accuracy tests but they are not unreasonable for testing a tactical rifle. It is very unlikely that a tactical or hunting rifle would be fired more than three shots in succession in a real-life occasion. The barrel continued to shoot sub quarter minutes groups at the one and two thousand round test points.
H-S Precision guarantees one half minute three-shot groups from all rifles of thirty caliber and under. The HTR test rifle managed to maintain that standard for the first five tests, in other words until five thousand rounds had been shot through it. After 6000 rounds the 3-shot group was 0.553" or only 53/100ths over the 0.5" mark. Accuracy stayed under 0.6" through the firing of 8000 rounds. Accuracy was opening up after 8000 as the post 9000 round accuracy test was in the 0.6's and the post 10,000 round test was in the low 0.7's. We verified that with the impromptu shooting test that Doug did while we were visiting him. The actual results of the shooting test are found in the accompanying chart.
10,000 ROUND BARREL TEST - H-S PRECISION RIFLE
H-S HTR Heavy Tactical Rifle
Leupold VariXIII 3.5-10 M3 LR
H-S Precision Tactical Mounts
Federal .308 Winchester Gold Medal 168 grain Match Ammo
100 yards H-S Indoor Shooting Range
Shooter - Doug Hardesty
Initial Test Target 0.203"
# OF ROUNDS 3-SHOTS # OF ROUNDS 3-SHOTS
1000 0.288 6000 0.553
2000 0.206 7000 0.444
3000 0.349 8000 0.541
4000 0.408 9000 0.636
5000 0.200 10,000 0.713
FEB. 23/2001 TEST TARGET 0.698
This constitutes a grueling test of the Pro-2000 rifle and H-S personnel are naturally pleased with the results. Various military and law enforcement agencies no doubt conduct similar wear tests but the H-S work has interesting ramifications for hunters and shooters. This shooting test showed conclusively that accuracy lasts a long time in a quality rifle barrel. Varmint shooters and serious target competitors will find the chart particularly interesting. I doubt that any civilian shooter is likely to fire 10,000 rounds through a rifle in only two and one half months, that is a lot of wear in a very short time frame. This test should assure the average hunter that his rifle is going to last a long time.