Sunday, August 16, 2009

A bit more on range day

One of the things I tried in my ongoing 'cast bullets in the Garand' tests was using the Lee 160-grain .311" bullet. Last time it grouped nicely at 100, so this time tried it again; five rounds in about 3" and the other three I have no idea where they hit.

I've tried a number of loads and bullets, from 150 to 155 to 160 to 200 grain(I've read a number of reports of the heavier bullet giving better accuracy), all but the 160(at .312) sized to .309", with IMR4895 powder. All work the action reliably, and I've found no signs of lead fouling in the gas system, but accuracy at 100 yards is not acceptable with any of them. It may be that this rifle just doesn't like something about cast bullets, or I just haven't hit the magic combination. Right now I've got several loads that shoot about 1.5-2" at 50 yards, good for plinking at that range, but not accurate enough for longer distances.

I'm going to try one more thing: I'll take the bullet that's given the best accuracy and work the powder charge up a bit. And if that doesn't work, I'll relegate these to short-range practice only and use jacketed bullet loads for longer ranges.

In the bolt rifles, no problems with cast. I noted last range day that the Lee 155-grain bullet at .309 shot very well in the K31, and it shot well in the 1903 this time. The 160-grain bullet shot well in the M39(7.62x54r), I think as well as the 180-grain .312 bullet does. Good accuracy and light recoil with them, a good combination.

One other thing I tried was some loads in .30-30. My standard practice load has been a 150-grain gas-check flat-point bullet in front of 16.0 grains of 2400. Looking at the manual, I could jump that up quite a bit from the look of it(this is guesswork; the Lyman #48 manual shows loads for 170-grain cast bullets, but not 150. Not wanting to push things too far(and I couldn't find anything online, either) I tried five rounds each wtih 17 and 18 grains, which are both below the max load shown for 170-grain bullets so with a 20-grain lighter bullet I figured they should be ok. The 16.0 grain load averaged about 1620 feet per second, 17.0 grains 1790fps, 18.0 grains 1876fps. The tightest group(shot all these at 50 yards just to simplify) was the 16.0 load, just under 1" and a good 3" below the other two groups. Next time I have a chance, I'm going to chrono the loads I have for hunting and see what they give; if I can get about the same velocity with cast and use something I read about to improve bullet upset(more on that later), I'll just go to the cast bullets for .30-30.

And, after finishing up on the pistol side, as there was nobody else around at the time, I spent a while in my guise as the Bent-Back Brass Picker and found almost fifty .380 cases and- for friend with the .32 Colt- almost forty .32acp cases. And a few .44 Mag cases a friend can use. This time I actually found some rifle brass I could use; last few months people have been picking up almost everything, this is the first time I've found more than a couple of reloadable cases in cartridges I use.

This morning, I'll throw in, I hit a local flea market and came home with a half-dozen cookbooks and a 2 oz. ball-peen hammer. Now I need to hit the grocery store.

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