Friday, November 27, 2009

45 Colt round ball load

I decided to give the .454" round ball load another go in the 1894. My previous experiment produced excellent accuracy but a fair amount of gas blowback through the bolt. This time I seated the ball a little deeper into the case - 1.445" and used a .5cc Lee Powder Scoop's worth of Bullseye powder (USE AT YOUR OWN RISK - ALWAYS DOUBLE CHECK RELOADING DATA).

The Sooting on the case and the gas blowback were reduced. The accuracy was excellent with this load too. The average Velocity was 891 fps but had a very wide extreme spread of 96 fps from High 921 fps to the Low of 825 fps.

The round balls I recovered from my dry sand backstop retained their shape for the most part. The rifling engraved on what would be the equator evenly so the they are not rolling inside the barrel. I placed the sprew mark down (south pole) and the balls flew straight and impacted without rotation on the northern hemisphere.

My next trip out to the range with the 1894 I'll test these out at 50 yards and see how they do. It looks like it'll do just fine at least to 25 yards. The Load prints just a little higher than my 255 grain RNFP and my 315 grain WFN loads Silhouette zero.

These loads cycle through the action and would probably make an excellent inexpensive "Cowboy load."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I jumped at the chance to shoot without pouring rain, soggy targets and howling wind... I also wanted a chance to confirm my earlier findings. Here is how it went.

Weather; overcast and calm wind.

Rifle: Marlin 336 Cowboy conversion - Caliber 30-30

Started out at the 50 yard range with a cold clean bore using the SR4756 load (~1400 fps)/ Ranch Dog TLC 311-165 RF bullet to confirm the zero I had established on the previous range trip. The first shot was about 2" high, the next shot was 1" high and the next three made a nice little <7/8" triangle right at point of aim.

I fired another five shot group with the same load and it too shot point of aim but expanded to 1-1/8". Then another that printed POA inside of 7/8". This is the load I will use for for the Levergun Silhouette matches. Using the 5th notch and holding at the top of the back of the 200 yard Rams, it should topple them if I do my part.

Next up was a middle of the road load using the same excellent Ranch Dog TLC 311-165 RF bullet - weighs in at 177 grains with this alloy, lubed and gas checked over Hercules 2400 powder (current versions of this powder are now made by Alliant). Using the same sight setting as the previous load (3rd notch up from the bottom on the elevator ramp) this load printed 5" higher at 50 yards. The first three shots formed a 2" triangle centered on the bullseye. Adjusting the rear sight to the second notch the next 5 shot group printed 2-1/2" above the point of aim into a 2" group. Not exactly the accuracy I was hoping for but well within the realm of minute of Deer vitals out well beyond what I'd take a shot on a critter. Using Veral Smith's formula this load should also penetrate more than 40" of critter minus bones. A quartering away shot through the boiler room and the offside shoulder should produce a dead Deer sized critter within rock throwing distance of the hit.

A load that continues to impress is the 170 grain Oregon Trail Laser-Cast bullet over 5 grains of Red Dot powder. This load produced the best group of the day just over 1/2". Using the zero for the SR4756 load it prints 2" higher and 1" to the right. This load averages 1047 fps.

The Lee C309-113 F "Soup Can" bullet over 2.8 grains (a .3 cc Lee powder Scoop) produced 1-1/8" accuracy at 50 yards and using the SR4756 load zero printed the slightly left (~1/2") of Point of Aim. This load looks like it will be my "Grouse load" for this rifle. At 25 yards it prints ~1" above point of aim, putting the bead at the base of the neck should produce a clean kill with no destruction of the delicious meat. When hunting with this rifle I will have at least a Grouse limit's worth in my pocket. The report is rimfire like and the recoil non existent.

Returning to the SR4756 load it appears the 100 yard Zero is right at or just above the 4th notch. I did not shoot enough groups at this range to confirm that. Using my ballistic software I can estimate that the 150 yard zero is on the 5th notch and the 200 yard zero should be just below the sixth (top) notch.

I also shot two groups worth off hand. The front bead just hangs on the target and I was able to call my shots. It will give me NO excuses in the matches for misses... Good problem.

I am very pleased with the conversion and this rifle is fast becoming a favorite. Can't wait to get it back out to the range.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rant - News Media Ignorance and Sensationalism

I'm not a political pundit type but I can get amped up enough to rant once in a while.

"News" is entertainment now. Coverage is typically biased toward the most sensational and salacious. It is also evident that there is an underlying political agenda mixed in to go along with "journalists" with little if any actual knowledge or experience about what they are reporting on.

Among my biggest peeves are phrases like "cop killer bullets." ABC recently reported that the "alledged" shooter in the Fort Hood massacre used a "cop killer gun." What kind of CRAP is that? Would fewer have been killed if he had used a 'duck killer gun?" Sensationalizing the weapon overstates its importance in the crime itself. The "cop killer gun" could have just as easily have been used to protect those that were unarmed and at the mercy of a deranged murdering freak had they been allowed to carry.

Why not focus on the perpetrator. He alone is responsible for his actions. It was his choice to murder his brothers. His thought process was poisoned. He did not make a rational choice, achieve his desired goal or further his warped agenda. It is more likely his actions are simply another wedge that will widen the gap between his ideal and the reality.

The Main Stream Media (MSM) seems to be more focused on finding ways to excuse his behavior, which appears to be exactly what caused this incident in the first place. The heartbreak of the REAL victims and their families and friends is glossed over. The MSM is bent on spinning this to suit their agenda and bolster their ratings. What seems obvious to me is not reported. Our window to the world is tinted. What we see and what we are told are mearly fragmented truths packaged to shape a distorted reality.

I wonder if the DC sniper execution coverage will mention the hundreds of heartbreaks that he caused? Most likely they will portray him as a victim and a minority of freaks will hail him as a martyr.

Sorry for the rant. This just happened to be the most convenient venue to dump the bilge I've been collecting over the last week or so.

Monday, November 09, 2009

More time with the Cowboy

On my second trip to the range with the 336 CB conversion I had hoped the weather would be better but it was not... More wind and even harder rain... I posted my targets at 50 yards and went to work.

The load that is emerging as the favorite is the Ranch Dog TLC311-165 bullet over SR 4756. The picture below shows three 50 yard groups each on a different notch on the rear sight elevator (2nd, 3rd and 4th up from the bottom). The point of aim was the bottom of the wide black ring. I'm sure the rifle will do better but in the pouring rain it was tough to see the target. I suspect the horizontal stringing was caused by my sight picture and/or wind pushing me around.

Fifty Yards, iron sights, front rested, wind rain ...

The Before Picture - 1976 336 Texan

The After Picture

The Lee 113gr bullet over SR4756 or Red Dot didn't fair as well at the longer range. The conditions may have played a part in that - the target was difficult to see in the low light, at times the rain was very heavy and the wind was strong enough it pushed me around on the bench. I will retest at a later date.

Tried a couple more loads.

2.8 grains of Bullseye under the Lee c309-113F averaged 828 fps with an extreme spread of 87 fps but was quite accurate at 25 yards - didn't try father.

17.5 grains of Hercules 2400 (Lyman & RCBS data)- I have a few pounds of this left... - under the Ranch Dog TLC 311-165 RF averaged 1854 fps with an extreme spread of less than 10 fps for the (short) string. The accuracy looks promising but won't know for sure until I can shoot at longer range. There was some minor leading evident. I suspect it was inadequate lubing - a (too) thin coat of Liquid Alox...

I'm having fun with this rifle. Just wish the wind and rain would let up.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Cowboy (conversion) goes to the range!

My curiosity always seems to get the best of me and I couldn't wait to get the new Marlin 336 Cowboy Conversion out to the range. Every cast 30 caliber bullet I could find in my reloading supplies was loaded and taken to the range. Here are the results (DOUBLE CHECK ALL DATA! USE AT YOUR OWN RISK!)

The first bullets down the barrel were the Oregon Trail 170 grain laser cast .310" RNFP bullet. A load that has proven accurate in all (five) of my 336's is 5 grains of Red Dot powder did in fact prove be accurate in the 336 Cowboy Conversion too. Averaging 1047 fps it produced the best group of the day. This was also the only bullet in this session that was NOT gas checked.

The next load tested was the Lee C309-113F ("Soup Can") over 10.5 grains of IMR SR 4756. I use this charge in my 45 Colts (Ruger and Marlin) and has a dedicated powder measure with that charge. 30-30 data shows I'm well under max pressure and used it as a starting point. The load averaged 1652 fps and also hinted at promising accuracy.

The "Soup Can" bullet was also tested with 3.3 grains (.5cc Lee powder scoop) of Red Dot Powder. At 30 yards the accuracy showed promise measuring .740" under less than ideal conditions, sitting position, poor light, wind and rain. The velocity averaged 856 fps.

My expectation for the Ranch Dog TLC311-165RF was high. It too has proven to be an accurate bullet in my Marlins and it proved to be so again. The weather limited the range I could shoot but I suspect this will be the bullet of choice for Hunting and Silhouette.

My 30-30 silhouette load for my other Marlin 336 Cowboy is the 10.5 grain charge of SR 4756. The new Cowboy conversion averaged about 50 fps slower than my original Cowboy but looks like it will be equally as accurate - perhaps more so, I'll have to tell you when I go 10 for 10 on the 200 meter rams The average velocity was 1402 fps. For those who buy into formulas, using the Veral Smith wound channel estimate for this load gets almost .80" - not bad for a soft shooting load. Shot selection would be critical for adequate penetration - probably stick to archery angles. Ideal would be 1" up to 1.25" wound channel for fast anchoring of delicious deer sized wild critters.

I also use the Ranch Dog bullet over 5 grains of Red Dot for Grouse loads as it typically shoots very close to full powder Jacketed bullet hunting loads out to 50 yards or so. In this rifle it averaged 944 fps which makes for a nice soft recoiling and quiet subsonic load. At 30 yards the group, including the flier was a little over 1/2". Throwing out the flier the group printed into one enlarged hole. It should make easy work for Grouse - still have till the end of the year to try it... - and it is a fun inexpensive plinking load - the gas check and the primer account for most of the cost but I still end up in under ten cents per round, or $2 a box.

Other observations:
-My eyes appreciate that extra 4" distance on the front sight.
-That 4" is noticeable maneuvering around the house, meaning less than ideal for HD. We'll see how that translates in the field later this month.
-It does feel heavier than my 20" 336's. Nice for target shooting, might not be so welcome after walking around with it for a few hours.
-No leading was detected while cleaning the rifle afterward.
-The throat is a bit tighter than my other Marlins - except for the SDT (now owned by Pine Cone). The driving band on the Soup Can bullet does engrave on the rifling.
-Octagon barrels look cool.
-I expect this rifle will do well at long range. There is plenty of sight ramp left to reach out to 300 yards and maybe beyond. Balistic calcs indicate I should be able to hold right on out to nearly 400 yards with the top notch setting using the "soup can" load. That doesn't mean it will but generally they aren't far off.
-To get the estimated wound channel I want for deer hunting using the Ranch Dog bullet I need to find a load that will get me over 1800 fps. That will be the focus of my loading the next batch of RD bullets.
-So far I am very pleased. Marlin returned a rifle that is beautiful and more importantly accurate.

45 Colt Moose

Saw this over at the Ruger Forum.
"I picked up that SS NMBH at a local gunstore, used. I sent it off to Clements Custom 'smithing and he installed one of his taller custom front sights and replaced the rear sight with a new one. I then installed a Belt Mountain base pin and a local 'smith installed a stronger, albeit, uglier set screw to keep it in place.

The load is Starline brass, WLP primers, max load of Lil'Gun pushing the Cast Performance 335 gr WFNGC to 1150 fps. The shot was taken at 15 yds. He didn't go more than 15-20 yds."


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Marlin "Cowboy Conversion"

My Cowboy Conversion just arrived!
This was the rifle I had converted. A 1976 vintage 336 Texan