Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle

This morning while browsing my favorite blogs and websites I came across this.

It is Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle and I want one!

I've been intrigued by this type of rifle for quite some time.  At one time or another I've been tempted by others - CZ 527 Carbine, Enfield "jungle carbine" (don't care for the calibers offered),  FR8 (a bit clunky looking) and Ruger's Frontier (no iron sights).  Now Ruger has produced what looks like my next rifle purchase.

Things I like about it:
-Size and weight
-Iron Sights
-Magazine Fed
-Adjustable platform, (size, sight systems, potential accessories)

It would be PERFECT if:
-a flush or nearly so magazine is offered, even if it only holds 3 rounds.  (Ruger now offers a three round polymer Magazine for this rifle!!)
- the butt pad isn't too soft or grippy that it catches your shirt as you bring it to your shoulder.
[Late Edit after 11 months of owning the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle] The sticky recoil pad is actually a good thing.  Not only does it reduce recoil it keeps the butt on your shoulder when you're running the bolt.

Surprisingly I've read some of negative responses to this rifle.  Most want a larger capacity magazine which makes NO sense to me on a bolt rifle.  About the only scenario I can imagine that a hi-cap mag would have an advantage is vs a wave of zombies.  Others ask why a bolt gun?  To them my response is 1- reliability, 2-durability 3-accuracy and 4-versatility.

In a situation that I only have one gun and I NEED it to work regardless of weather, lubrication or ammo type, a bolt gun is a good choice.  Bolt guns are rugged with few breakable parts.  Base on my own experience and observations a bolt action rifle is typically more accurate than other action types and easier to do so.  As a handloader I can produce a wide variety of ammo for a bolt gun and the operation of the rifle remains same.  Everything from subsonic Grouse loads to full power Elk busting loads with lots of variety in between.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The two most amazing shots I've ever seen

400 yards with a mirror

114 year old Marlin 1893 in 32-40


1,000 yards OFFHAND!

Marlin 336 Cowboy in 38-55. Montana Vintage Arms mid range post tang sight.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I have a (GOOD) problem

It seems there isn't a Marlin 39 or 1897 that I don't want to buy... My budget keeps it in check for the most part but last week three of them came home with me...  A GOOD problem.

First I came into a 39 Century Ltd via a trade, and then I came into another in a trade with a friend - add those with the other one I got earlier this year and it made a nice set.  Circumstances, which will be more clear later in this post, didn't allow me to play that hand long but I had NO problem finding a home for the extra...  Leaving me with a pair of 39 Century Ltds which feels mighty good.

My first Century Ltd is probably the most accurate of the seven 39's I've owned.  I shot my best silhouette score with that rifle and it does impressive little groups on paper too when my eyes are fresh and there is good light.  I've packed it around my property on a good many walks and enjoyed plinking and Grouse hunting with it.  Very light and portable carbine sized rifle.

I de-badged the stock.  It is a preference thing.  I like the look of uncluttered wood.

The other Century Ltd is looking like it's a shooter too.  It arrived in better shape than my first one and it appears to have a lot less mileage on it.  The trigger is a little heavier and that did affect some of my early target efforts but once I adjusted I started shooting it very well.

Before the dust could settle on the Century Ltd's my local fun pusher said he had a client selling off some of his Marlin collection...  Life is GOOD!  I inquired about what was available and there were a number of gems he was willing to part with.

Sadly my wallet wasn't any fatter since the last time I opened it so I had to borrow some money from the boss -My lovely and understanding Wife is more proof to what a Lucky Man I am! 

I came home with a 1897 Cowboy (vintage 1999)

 I have been wanting one of these for a while.  Marlin didn't make enough of them (1999-2001) and their owners tend to hang onto them.  I was VERY pleased with price I got and even more pleased with the way it shoots

 Federal (bulk) Champion
The first targets I shot once I had it sighted in.  Not bad for the cheap stuff.

 It didn't take me long to get it sighted in - the Marlin octagonal barrels have been consistently excellent for me, front and rear sights centered and it just becomes a matter of elevation.  The Marbles rear sight has an inner reversible sight black that is also elevation adjustable.  I try to set it so on the lowest notch it shoots point of aim at 25 yards.  That usually gives me more than enough notches to reach out to 200 yards with a right on hold.

Early preliminary testing indicates that on the second notch I should have a 50 yard zero and the third notch up should be right on at 100 yards with two notches to spare.  Using the 100 yard zero there is about a 36" drop out to 200 so it will be interesting to see if the top two notches will get me all the way there.

I am REALLY liking the longer barreled Marlins.  They seem to just hang on the targets.  All I have to do is put the front sight where it goes and start squeezing.  The Marlin 1897 CB sure makes that easy to call my shots.  I was able to shoot a couple of offhand targets that I would have been proud of off the bench.

A friend of mine used his tang sight equipped 39A shoot a 3 shot 3" group at 300 yards off the sticks a couple of weeks ago.  Not something he could do every time but it does show the potential of these rifles.

Octagonal Barrels on a Marlin 39 / 1897 

Like my other "rebounding hammer" Marlin, the 39 TDS I did have some issues with light strikes on the Aquila, CCI and Winchester brands of ammo resulting in failures to fire.  A second hammer strike set them all off but that wasn't satisfactory to me.  Removing and inspecting the bolt I noticed the firing pin retention pin was over driven.  I pushed it out so it was flush with the top of the bolt and it greatly mitigated the issue, though I still had about 20% of the Aguila ammo require two strikes.  Some more tweaking and I suspect that will be remedied too.  The Federal ammo is 100% reliable.

I ran few varieties of ammo over the Chronograph.  Surprisingly the velocity was lower than my other Marlins, including the other 24" 39A - which shoots everything faster than the others except subsonic ammunition.

With the Federal ammo the 39 Century Ltd (20" barrel) gets 50 fps more than the 1897 CB.  With the Subsonic ammo the difference is about 60 fps.  Out of the 24" barrel the Subsonic ammo's report is noticeably reduced.

Overall I couldn't be more pleased.  I am really looking forward to the next Silhouette match and my expectations are very high for the 1897 CB. 

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Review: Lee 379-250 RF bullet in the Marlin 336 Cowboy

Here is my review of the Lee 379-250 RF bullet in my 38-55 caliber Marlin 336 Cowboy.

Lee 379-250 RF as cast with a Lyman #2 approximation alloy - Weight 252 gr. average.

The cast weights range from 254 grains for 20/1 alloy down to 245 grains using harder alloys.  In my 336 Cowboy the softer alloys are showing the most promise with this bullet.

38-55 Lyman Data

10 grains of Unique will propel this bullet to just under 1300 fps in my rifle and it also appears to be the most accurate.  There is enough rear sight elevator range to give me right on holds out to 200+ yards.

50 yards over Unique

5.6 grains of Unique gets 910 fps and out to 50 yards is only slightly less accurate than the 10 grain load.

My testing with 2400 was limited as the accuracy was quite poor in the loads I tried.  In my rifle 16 grains would get the Lee bullet going 1511 fps avg.

16.5 grains of SR 4759 averages 1506 fps and is VERY consistent with Standard Deviations of less than 10 fps.  This load is also showing some real accuracy potential.  I believe this load would match the upper levels of the original black powder loadings.  The load data predicts the pressure levels to be well inside the capability of the Marlin's strength and examining the fired cases appears to bear that out.  Using Wind's Magi-Lube - Beeswax (5) Crisco (4) and Vaseline (1) - there is little to no sign of leading after 20 shots.  I have  not yet tried this load on the long range dingers but I suspect it may allow me to take at least a cover hold sight picture on the 400 yard dinger.

Recovered Lee Bullets fired into a dry sand backstop.  The 20/1 alloy at 1400-1500 fps expanded the noses to more than 45 caliber (smallest) and retained a most if not all of their weight.  The actual weight of the recovered bullets was greater than the cast weight as there was a good bit of sand became embedded in the bullet.  Bullets were recovered 8-9" deep.

For those looking for an inexpensive general purpose bullet mold that is a proven performer in 38-55 Marlins I would recommend it the Lee.  There are those that dislike the bevel base but I've experienced no issues with it.

Here is some video of it in use.

38-55 Winchester Starline Brass - A Case Study

Starline finally did a run on the 38-55 2.125" brass and 500 of them arrived on my Doorstep Grin

I tried to bump it up to 1,000 but they didn't have the inventory...  Undecided

Starline 2.125 and Winchester 38-55 brass

Right out of the box

Side by side comparison

The Lee 379-250 RF shoots very well in both W's and my 336 Cowboys.  With the Winchester brass the Lee bullet must be sized to .379" in order to cycle into W's and mine will cycle them as cast.  His shoots the .379" sized bullets very well and mine has a definite preference for the larger as cast variety.

Lee bullet as cast

The as cast Lee bullet in Starline Brass wide dimension is .395"  Loaded with the (excellent) RCBS Cowboy dies, crimping die set ~5/8 of a turn past touching.

The Winchester brass loaded with an as cast Lee Bullet.  This round will cycle easily through my CB but NOT W's.   With the Starline brass and the fatter as cast bullet it will cycle easily in his rifle.

The OAL for the Lee bullet in the Starline 38-55 2.125" case is 2.530" using all of the crimp groove. It cycles flawlessly through my CB.  Comparatively the OAL I've been using with the Winchester/Lee combo is 2.500"

A 2.550" OAL will cycle through the Marlin 336 Cowboy's chamber.

In tests over the chronograph there have been no appreciable differences in velocity between the Starline and Winchester Brass.  Accuracy too seems to be unaffected.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Marlin 336 Cowboy in 38-55 part 1

Not long ago I got my Marlin 336 Saddle Ring Texan back from Marlin after being converted to a Marlin 336 Saddle Ring Cowboy in 38-55.

A year ago I didn't even know I needed a 336 in 38-55 :p but the more I read about it, the more I needed one.

 My two 336 Cowboy (conversions), Top in 38-55, the bottom is in 30-30

The easiest way to tell the difference is to look at the hole at the end of the barrel

The 38-55 is actually the "Parent Case" for the 30-30 (and the 32-40), which is a 38-55 case necked down to 30 caliber. I've not tried it (yet) but it is possible to "fire form" 30-30 brass into 38-55 brass - though the length is a little short.

Due to its versatility the 30-30 has been my go to ranch rifle for a while. The 38-55 is getting a try out in that roll and seems to be up to the task as well.

A spot on a stump that needed shootin'... three times

Taking on the 300 yard Dinger

The real advantage the 38-55 has over the 30-30 is the heavier bullet. The most common weight is 250 - 255 grains and it flies a little better over long range - less effected by wind - and has a lot of smack left when it arrives.

Marlin 336 Cowboy in 38-55 part 2

A friend of mine got a Marlin 336 Cowboy about the same time I did and we've been dialing in loads ever since.

200 yard target

He ended up putting a Montana Vintage Arms tang sight on his which gives it a lot more legs.  Here he is ringing the 600 yard Dinger with his.

Here is some 600 yard video

The next trip over he decides 600 wasn't enough so we marched it out to 800

Here is some raw video of me making my first attempts at 800 yards, took me a few shots but eventually got on it.

Marlin 336 Cowboy in 38-55 part 3

Since getting it back I've been shooting and packing it around every chance I get.

Here it is on a recent scouting trip. There is a Black Bear (he's actually cinnamon colored) on my property tearing apart pretty much every stump on the place, feeding on grubs.

Data for 38-55 Win is pretty limited but I have been trying several powders. Unique, SR 4759 and IMR 4198 have shown the most promise.

My rifle seems to prefer a cast bullet un-sized, as cast (~.380"). The .380" bullet won't even fit in my friend's Cowboy when using Winchester Brass but I have some Starline brass on Back-Order that is supposed to have thinner walls that should allow feeding of the fatter bullet in his too. Luckily a .379" bullet shoots very well in his.

In tests mine will put most of them into a <1" group at 50 yards with open sights, even with me behind the trigger.

With .379" sized bullets the group size doubles in my rifle.

I've used two different bullets so far. The Lee 379-250 RF and the Ranch Dog TLC 379 235 RF. The Lee bullet seems to like 1250-1400 fps the best and the Ranch Dog has shot well at 925 fps to over 1500 fps.

It really is a neat old (1882) cartridge. It reminds me of a skinny 45-70 and has a nice old fashion aesthetic that I'm really attracted too.

Marlin 336 Cowboy in 38-55 addendum

I have presses at home and typically don't run out of ammo when I'm at the Outpost but the voracious appetite of the 38-55 Cowboy and the limited number of cases I have required me to do a little front porch reloading with the excellent Lee Hand Press.

I haven't used this press before but found it quite simple and VERY convenient given the location.

This is about all you need to keep you shooting when you're away from the reloading bench. It all fits inside a Cabelas ammo box - which is a little bigger than a 50 caliber ammo can.

Resizing and depcapping is very much the same as it is on a single stage press. The spent primers are collected in the ram and needs to periodically be emptied to prevent jamming.

I prefer to prime with a hand primer but figured I'd give the priming attachment a try. It is slower but works very well.

The shell holder is switched out and moved to the top craddled in a fitting that screws into same place the dies do. The priming ram fits right where the shell holder goes.

I practiced with the Lee Powder scoops at home and noted the charge it would throw on each scoop.

No accuracy differences were detected in the ammo loaded at home vs the ammo loaded on the front porch, either on paper or on the dingers.

Overall I would recommend the system for those interested in a very portable and inexpensive way to reload.

A few more 336 Cowboy shooting videos:

I have both the RCBS Cowboy Dies and the Lee Dies for this caliber. I would HIGHLY recommend the RCBS CB dies. I do use the Lee Factory Crimp Die for crimping though.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

A few more Long Range videos

400 yards, 38-55 Marlin 336 Cowboy

600 yards, 38-55 Marlin 336 Cowboy

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cowboy Silhouette Videos

Here is some (poor quality) footage from this month's match

Can he go 10 for 10?

Me trying to MOw down the Rams. Can Pigs fly? Watch the last pig go down.

All and all good fun.

Details: The Captain is shooting his 1894 CL in 32/20. I'm shooting my 1894 Cowboy Limited in 45 Colt with a 255 grain bullet going jogging along around 1200 fps. Mild load but hits HARD. A rail hit will shake down the whole bunch.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

More long range fun with my 30-30

Last month it was 400 yards.  This month we moved out to the 500 yard line.  I took a few shots prior to this just to get my hold over, the load I'm using is only jogging along at 1400 fps so even with the rear sight set at its highest point I was still about two (front sight) beads (~16-20 FEET at that distance) above the target (20" wide, 32" tall - a little smaller than a 55 gallon drum).  We also had a variable crosswind from the left to right which required some hold off to the left.  You can the gun smoke get blown to the right right after the shot.  A slow bullet traveling that distance moves feet, not inches.

Now for the disclaimer- The video quality is poor and the audio is even worse.  I believe the auto-focus motor sound is what is picked up by the mic.  Knowing that the effective range of and excuse is zero meters...  I'll leave it at that.

Shooting a 30-30 at 500 yards

Walking up to the target dinger

The details Correction- I mistakingly say the velocity is 1200 fps. The actual muzzle velocity is 1402 fps avg over my chronograph.

The owner of this ranch wanted to show me how it's done, this is his second shot.

GREAT fun!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

400 yard shot video

My little camera has some video capabilities but I haven't used them very much.  I did manage to capture a little bit of our shooting fiesta, including the first hit on the 400 yard dinger.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The most fun with a 336 - ever

The most fun with a 336 - ever

(Posted at Marlin Owners too but since some may not get over there, I'll post here too)

Last week I got the chance to get out of town with the 336 Cowboy (conversion) in 30-30 and put it through the paces. The snow has mostly cleared out of my place and the first signs of Spring are just starting to appear. I hadn't been over in several months so what better way to see the place than to take a few 2-3 hour walks with a rifle.

I took the 336 Cowboy Conversion with me that I’ve hunted with in its original configuration (20" Texan) and was curious what my impression would be with the longer 24" barrel. There is a noticeable weight gain. Not so much that it is burdensome and still much lighter (and thinner) than a scoped bolt rifle. I didn't limit myself to the trails and headed cross country into the thickets to test the portability. I must say I was quite pleased - with the loaded magazine the balance point is about a hand width forward of the previous (short barreled) point of carry so while carried in the hand the barrel protrusion isn't much if any more than the Texan. I did not test it carried vertically on a sling which I'm sure would have been more likely to catch on branches and uneven ground higher and/or lower.

One of the loads I took along while out scouting the ranch was the Lee 115 grain "Soup Can" bullet over a little (less than 3 grains) of Bullseye. It only jogs along at 850 fps but is very accurate. Out of the long barrel it is quiet enough for me (a half deaf carpenter) to shoot without ear protection and it didn't take me long to run through all the ammo I brought with me. I did shoot it out to 110 yards (lasered) but the bullet drop past 50 yards starts getting measured in feet, not inches. It looks like a perfect Grouse load as it shoots close enough to point of aim of my hunting loads out to 50 yards that I'm confident I can make clean and ethical shots on those tasty critters without sending a cloud of feathers into the atmosphere and leaving a greasy spot where he once stood.

The timing of my trip allowed me to drop by Wind’s place and we had ourselves a shooting fiesta before (and after) the next day's Silhouette match. I started dialing in my match load on the 200 yard Ram-o-matic dinger when he rolled out the newest addition to the shooting gallery - the 400 yard triple lung which measures 32" tall by 20" wide.

For perspective, this is looking back toward the firing line on the front steps of the shop.

He then proceeded to thump that thing with an 1895 Marlin Cowboy in 45-70 and a 114 year old Marlin 1893 in 32-40. Shooting off the sticks was too easy so he took a shot at it off hand with the 32-40 and rang it - though at the time we initially saw the lead splash below it before the clang made it back to us. I have a short video of that I can't figure out how to post. I also have some video of the hits and grins we endured during our arduous shooting session.

Off the sticks I was able to ring it easily with my 336 CB using the Ranch Dog 165 grain Bullet over enough 2400 to get me 1850 fps.

We finished off the day with a celebratory feast that included all three food groups; Meat, Taters and BEER (Moose Drool).

The next morning we joined up with a bunch of other lever gun enthusiasts to knock down a bunch of critters at various ranges.

Wind left his tack driving 30-30 in the safe and took the old girl (32-40) to the dance. Al the match director also decided to take style points over score and showed up with his century plus old Winchester 1873 in 44-40. Imagine the history and adventures those old guns have seen. Very cool.

We started on the Chickens and little did we know that the number 4 chicken in our lane was bullet proof. We both missed him... TWICE!

#4 Super Chicken, still standing despite our best efforts.

We had a grand time toppling those critters, even though it was cold and the wind picked up as the morning went along. With one shot left in the match this was ram was all I needed to break 30.... I choked... dern it!

The 165 grain Ranch Dog bullet/2400 load is plenty to topple the heavy 200 yard rams, even with less than ideal hits. I got this guy twice in the "unit" during the match and both times he fell. The other two hits were from a side match we had after the official competition was over.

In the interest of science we decided to end the Marlin vs. Winchester debate once and for all. The contest would pit four Marlin shooters (Wind and myself included) against four Winchester shooters, the first group to mow down five 200 yard rams wins. Needless to say we Marlin owners won easily and had our rams on the ground while two of theirs were still on the rails.

After being embarrassed the Whiny, er, I mean Winchester boys demanded a rematch, this time we'd shoot rams AND turkeys. I think Wind and I were the only Marlin guys left with rifle calibers and ammo but we were pretty sure it was still fair since they had to shoot Winchesters

At the "go!" command I touched one off that sailed over my Ram and levered in another, this time I planted a solid shot right in his middle and started looking for more Rams, Wind and his 1893 already had his ram down, the extra Ram and was working on our teammates rams before I got a bead on the last one standing. On to the turkeys the with our Ram distance zeros we all sent our first shots high. We got three down when the Winchester dudes dropped their last Turkey...

Looks like this argument will have to continue until we get a rematch...