Re: Shooters capability vs variation in rifle/load
Just an update to the original post, because I have a better appreciation for my abilities and can go back to examining equipment and loads. I have a Cooper Phoenix in 6.5x55 that has always been a "good" shooter and I recently picked up some Lapua Scenar 139 gr projectiles to go with my Lapua brass (seemed like a logical combination). I had never tried the Lapua Scenar and thought they would be interesting to experiment with.
A short time later, a buddy called and invited me out to a friends place for some casual 500 yard competition the next weekend. Now this event has traditionally been a casual get together, but none the less very competitive. The winner gets bragging and ribbing rights until the next outting, so shortly after hanging up the phone I'm already mulling over how to get prepared. I head down to the "man cave" and set up the press with the 6.5x55 dies, grabbed a box of new Lapua brass, Federal Gold Medal Match primers and the newly acquired Scenar projectiles. I used my Hornady comparator to set the die to seat the bullet .010" off the lands. Now for the powder; I have a significant array of powders that I have tried for various projectiles and calibers, some successful some not. So I opened the reloading manual looked up the listed options for a 139 gr projectile in 6.5x55 and there in the list was H1000. It just happened that I had a can of H1000 on the shelf that I had used in a load development for my 7mm STW and didn't like the results with it as well as with Retumbo; so it was available. The manual stated a max load of 52 gr, so being a conservative kind of guy I arbitrarily picked 48 gr as a safe starting load and proceded to load up several rounds.
So the day came of the shoot and in my mind the first order of business is to test the new load at 100 yds. I set up on the bench; rifle rest, sandbags, spotting scope, box of newly loaded ammo and last but not least my Cooper Phoenix with a Bushnell Elite 6500 Tactical scope. I got in position, loaded the first round, took aim at the "sight-in" target at 100 yards and squeezed off the first round. I could see the hole through the scope, it was just slightly left but perfect on elevation. I loaded and fired the second round and to my surprise could not see a hole. I checked through the spotting scope for a closer view, and... no hole, what the heck?? I fired the third shot and again I am shocked and extremely disappointed that I don't see a hole on the target. Now being the victim of something going very wrong with a new load much more often than actually having something "magical" occur, you know where my mind is going...obviously something is wrong, load, equipment...something! I did the cursory check of the scope, nope not loose. Looked through the scope and reticle seemed intact, centered and horizontal. So, I loaded round 4 and squeezed it off. This time when I looked through the spotting scope the original hole looks a little elongated....WHAT!! No it couldn't be! My mind is racing about where exactly shots 2 and 3 went. Now believe me, I have NEVER put 5 shots through one hole in my life and just to make sure no one misunderstands, that record is still intact. I was a little pumped and excited for round 5 and after firing immediately saw another hole on the target with about a quarter inch of paper between it and the first hole. I ran down and retrieved the target and even though a lttle disappointed in shot 5, I was absolutely ecstatic about the previous 4 shots all in the same hole.
I had a brand new load, first time out that was a serious winner via sheer luck. I also had a new appreciation for my personal skills. And to top all that off I recorded the most kills on 2 litre bottles at 500 yards and I definately won the day. It was great fun and I had to share the experience with all of you. Thanks for letting me make this long post!