22-284 Winchester: Life At 40X

Range time: with three different powder load charges of H1000 and RL22 each, the first 50 yard zero checking rounds printed a nice tight ¼” 3 shot group with the fourth shop opening it up to ½”. That was with a new bore and H1000 @ 53 grains clocking in at 3468 fps. That’s good speed with acceptable 50 yard accuracy. Now to do some 100 yard load development!

H1000 was tested first with 53, 54 and 55grains. Again the 53grain load printed a ¼” 3 shot group with 54 & 55grains around the ½” mark and a top speed of 3579fps @ 55grains with a slight stiff bolt lift. Now for the RL22 loads of 48, 49 and 50grains. Consistent two shot one hole groups with one shot opening the group to ½”. Speeds with RL22 ran close to 200fps slower than the H1000 loads. Top speed with RL22 @ 50grains clocked in at 3331fps. Later that day studying the targets a pattern was easy to spot. Since this was a new barrel I was cleaning the fouling and copper out after each shot, two in one hole with a flyer again and again! The flyer was the fouler shot, it had to be. I was firmly rested in sand bags just touching off the 6oz Jard trigger and the 36X scope was equipped with a “Tucker” style reticule lock.

Wanting the speed for good varmint work I stayed with the H1000 and returned to the range to further test the 53grain load. I also had a 55.5grain load to check for more possibilities. I was now cleaning the barrel after 3 shot strings and using some liquid graphite Lock-eez to coat the barrel with; ¼” groups became the norm with 53grains of H1000 and the 55.5grain load needed to be checked for its secrets. Remember what you read I told myself after touching off one round and then needing to really pry hard on the bolt handle to extract the round! You know the drill thumb on scope tube, index finger wrapped around the bolt knob and grit your teeth… I only recorded one round of 55.5grains @ 3634fps and proceeded to tear down the other two rounds and then measure the overpressure spent case. With the shoulder push forward 0.100” I could not get the case to resize down with a F.L. die. That load will go in the load book as MAX pressure! I plan to keep shooting the 75grain A-max loads until groups open to .75” consistently. A quick look at ballistic charts shows just less than 1000Lbs of retained energy can be expected with the H1000 load out to 400yards! That should hit like the hammer of Thor on varmints. Then I will start running lighter 50grain and 45grain pills down the bore to have fun with pushing high 4100+ fps velocities, after all isn’t that the fun of experimenting with an overbore?

I was satisfied with the 100yard testing and started to set up at 200yards. Even with the cartridges’ 35 degree shoulder tapper I needed to trim the case length and anneal the neck/shoulder area after 3 firings of a case. Switching to the Barska Benchmark 40X scope allowed me to really see those tiny pinholes at 200yards, vertical stringing of shots seemed hard to avoid and my best 200yard group was a disappointing ½ m.o.a. The temperature was mid to high 30 degrees, I was getting tired of a knee deep walk in the snow to retrieve my targets so I packed up the Dodge 4x4 and let the 5.7 Hemi do the work.

Later that evening while reading thru publications, keeping good records of interesting topics really helps out when working thru accuracy issues. An article in the December 2012 American Gunsmith written by Norman E. Johnson titled “counterbalancing the stock” was just the cure! All that was needed to eliminate vertical shot displacement was to add butt stock weight to help offset the 27” barrel and make the rifle track better in the bags, ½ pound of steel shot was poured into two 9/16” holes drilled into the upper section of the stock nicely hidden under the morgan adjustable butt pad. The next trip out to the range was sunny and a balmy 45 degrees, pet load of H1000 @ 53grains and this time 230yard groups printed ½” for 3 shots! Yes I was really happy!