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GUNS Magazine March 2010 - Page 18
MONTANA MUSINGS • MIKE “DUKE” VENTURINO • PHOTOS: YVONNE VENTURINO “wRINGING OUT” GUNS You do and you may have to hang them up. hile lurking on a Web site I read a posting saying today’s W modern gunwriters don’t do the readers justice because they don’t “wring out” test guns enough. One fellow even stated you had to shoot about 50 rounds through any gun every week for a year to really come to know it. I disagree with both the purpose for “wringing out” guns and the knowledge you might receive in doing so. First, there would be no end to “wringing out” a rifle or handgun. The variety of components today is too vast. Take, for instance, primers. Being made here in the USA are CCI, Federal, Winchester and Remington. From abroad are Wolf from Russia, Lapua from Finland, and MagTech, which I think, come from Brazil. Then there are the options in some of those brands of magnum or standard strength primers and some even are benchrest types. Even being conservative we would need to try at least a dozen different primers. Then we get to propellants. By my count there are easily over 100 smokeless powders now. Of course all of them would not have application to any given cartridge but it would be a rare cartridge if a handloader couldn’t find at least a dozen or so to try. I wouldn’t even begin to try counting the different suitable bullets available. There are jacketed, commercially cast, and home cast varieties and dozens perhaps scores of weights and shapes to choose from. With lead alloy types there are also variables in sizing diameter, bullet lubricant, and alloys. Let’s not forget cartridge cases too. Besides brand there are different mechanical ways cartridge cases can be handloaded. For instance, neck sizing as opposed to full-length sizing, primer pocket uniforming, neck turning, roll crimping, taper crimping, or total lack of crimp. And don’t forget seating depth. All those different bullets would have to be “tested” for optimum seating depth. Now I am no mathematician, but I’m seeing possible load combinations here totalling millions. And now consider this fact. Barrels wear. Lead alloy bullets don’t wear 18 barrels much, but many competitive shooters feel a high-quality .308 Winchester barrel will begin to lose its top accuracy potential after a few thousand rounds. So as thousands of rounds are fired in “wringing out” a barrel, it changes interior dimensions, which in turn negates all the work just put into the process. “Wringing out” any firearm in the true sense is just an old fallacy. What is real, however, is the practice of “working up Oneofthegreatfallaciesof“wringingout”a rifleistotrytomakeafirearmsdesignperform atalevelforwhichitwasneverintended.For instance,ifDuke’sM2Carbine(above)will groupinsideabout3"at100yardsinsemi-auto mode,thenithasplentyofprecisionforhis purposes.DukeisshootingataBPCRSilhouette matchafterworkingupanaccurateload. afterhehasfoundasuitablyaccurateloadfor competitionhewillnotshoottherifleforgroup again.Photo:JohnWorthington. a good load.” That doesn’t encompass trying every possible handload combination under the sun. It means making some intelligent component picks and arriving at a handload that suits your shooting purpose. Let me give some examples. My own chosen type of competitive shooting is the NRA’s Black Powder Cartridge Rifle (BPCR) Silhouette. I have no fewer than seven rifles dedicated just to that sport. Five are .45-70s, one is a .40-65, and one a .45-90. After years of experience, there are a few components on which I am dead set. One is the lead alloy for cast bullets. I only use 1-20 tin to lead. It always works for me. Another is powder. The imported Swiss brand is consistent from lot to lot so I don’t need to do development work with each new powder lot purchased. Furthermore I’ve settled on the 1-1/2 Fg granulation for all my rifles so only one type is kept in stock. And lastly, my best shooting has been done with CCI-BR2 (benchrest) primers. So when a new rifle falls into my hands, such as the Lone Star rolling block .45-70 bought in 2009, there isn’t a lot of dust raised by trying every component possible. Using the above mentioned ones a few different bullets designs are tried and the best performing one chosen for match use. What Works Have I found the very best handload combination possible for all my silhouette rifles? No, what I have done is find a suitable combination delivering the 1.5 minute of angle (MOA), groups which I feel make me competitive. Then I take that rifle and load to as many BPCR silhouette matches as possible and learn to shoot it with some finesse. And to me that is the bottom line— learning to shoot a particular firearm with proficiency. You can “test fire” one from bench rest until the next ice age and still not be a decent marksman with it once the sandbags are removed from the equation. A natural question at this point is “What is a suitable level of precision for a rifle, pistol, revolver or whatever?” WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • MARCH 2010