Range Report: Federal 6.5x55mm Swedish 140gr

Yesterday I went off to the 100-yard indoor range to play around a little with the new rig:

…and see which ammo it likes best of all.  I have quite a few different brands / types of 6.5x55mm ammo, so picking one is no easy choice.  I decided to start with the Federal ammo, because I’ve always had good results with it, and long ago I standardized my bullet weight at 140gr because that’s what all my rifles thus chambered (there have been a few) have shot well.

Before we look at the target, I need to talk a little bit about the scope technique.

Last week, after zeroing the scope, I reset both the top- and side knobs to zero.  All “warmup” strings were fired with that scope setting, and then I’d adjust the scope (once) for that ammo, and let off another string.  While I was letting the barrel cool between the different ammo brands, I’d reset the both scope turrets to their original zero, before changing to the new ammo.

All aiming-points are the center (bull) diamonds.

Because I couldn’t take too much time — the range is always fairly busy, even on a Monday — I had to shoot a little more quickly than I normally would, which meant the barrel heated up quite a lot.  So here’s the 100-yard target:

The top two targets were as follows:  the top right-hand target was the warm-up string with this type (includes a called flyer), and the top-left was after I’d adjusted the scope.  Not bad.

The large center target held two groups:  the left-hand group (with yet another called flyer) was basically the same ammo I used to zero the scope last week, and I was a little worried because my aim-point was the center diamond.  Was the barrel starting to whip?  I decided to let the thing cool for about ten minutes, and then I tried the “new” ammo I’d purchased a few weeks ago:  the Federal “Fusion”, the first string of which which is the right-hand group on the large target, and then, after scope adjustment, the bottom-right target.  Lovely. Good thing I have lots of it.  (Okay, I have a lot of all the ammo types, but whatever.)

Then, disaster.

The bottom-left target was reserved for Federal Premium “Trophy Bonded Bear Claw”, which has always given me excellent results, across three or four different rifles.  All this ammo, incidentally, has the same lot number on the boxes;  it was very carefully chosen and ordered, and it has worked consistently well.

Just not this time, with this rifle.

The two flyers were not called — in fact, all five shots felt “right” when I touched them off — and while I can live with flyers an inch or two off, these two came out of the blue, and were not the last two fired, either:  from memory, they were the 2nd and 4th in the string.  In fairness, the barrel was really hot by then, so… I ended the range session.

The reason this is so perturbing is that if I were suddenly to be called away on a hunting trip with no chance to test-fire any of the types shown, I would grab the Bear Claw in a heartbeat and head out.

It looks like I need to spend a little more time with this ammo.

That aside — and I will get to the bottom of the problem — the Federal ammo brands and types all performed well, under the circumstances.  Remember that this was really just a “rough” test — I plan on fine-tuning each type in separate sessions over the next couple months, with the scope adjustments noted.

Range Report: CZ 550 American / Meopta Optika6

Yesterday I took the new toys out to work, said toys being a CZ 550 American (6.5x55mm Swede), topped with a Meopta Optika6 3-18x50mm scope.  Here’s the tout ensemble:

…and the illuminated reticle:

…which I would only use if I were hunting at dusk or dawn.  (On paper, the cross-hairs work just fine.)

Now, I’m pretty sure I heard someone saying, “Meopta-whut?”

Me, too;  until I discovered who they are.  Here’s the full scoop, but the executive summary is:

  • Czech company
  • been around since the 1930s
  • mainly makes commercial photo-enlargers
  • renowned for the quality of their glass
  • started making scopes a couple decades ago
  • if you’ve ever bought a Zeiss Conquest scope [raises hand], it was made by Meopta and stamped by Zeiss
  • congratulations;  you just paid two hundred-odd dollars more than you had to, for the identical scope.

Let me get the basics out of the way, first.

This scope cost me about $650, and I honestly think I got $1,200 value for it.  Holy cow:  the precision of the scope is astonishing, and the clarity as as good as any scope I’ve ever looked through.  I was originally going to get a Minox ZX-5i of similar power for about $100 more, but nobody had it in stock at the time and I was antsy, so I took a flyer on the Meopta, and I don’t regret it, at all.

That said, there are a couple of things that irritated me about the scope’s setup operation.

I’m using Warne Maxima rings, the tallest you can get, because the 50mm bell needs to be raised off the barrel and CZ bases are quite low.  As it turned out, the bell wasn’t a problem.  What was a problem was that yuge magnification adjusting ring on the scope:

…which proved very good at preventing the bolt from being pulled back — which, in a bolt-action rifle, is Not A Good Thing.  I had to put a shim into the rear scope ring to raise the scope the requisite millimeter or thereabouts so that the bolt handle would clear the adjusting ring.

The second issue also involved the adjuster, and it was the little stick screwed into it, supposedly to aid the easy working of the mag adjuster (which, by the way, is hellish stiff, more than it has to be, I think, but it should ease up with use).

Well, maybe the stick helps adjust the ring, but what it also does is get in the way when you’re working the bolt — and yes, there are several threaded holes to choose from to overcome this problem:  but what I found was that moving the stick so that it stayed out of the way worked for one magnification setting, but as soon as I changed the magnification (from, say, 10x to 5x or 12x to 18x), the fucking thing would catch on my hand when I worked the bolt.  And nothing makes Uncle Kimmy crankier than when something interferes with him working the bolt.

So I unscrewed the little stick and threw it away.  Don’t need it, won’t need it, especially as the adjusting ring has those deep, thick grooves to provide a decent grip*.

But those were the only issues I encountered at that session.  The scope worked flawlessly, and zeroing it took just under an hour (I generally let the barrel cool between strings, especially a skinny lil’ thing like the 550’s.)

Like an idiot, I hadn’t bothered bore-sighting the scope before hitting the range, and I paid for it by having to waste over a dozen rounds just to land the boolets into a dinner-plate group.

I had no intention of going for MOA (except by luck) during this session, anyway.  This is a hunting rifle rather than a precision target piece, and in any event, I was only shooting one brand of ammo to get everything into the same zip code.

The ammo was my standard sighting-in choice:  bottom-of-the-line no-frills Federal 140-gr Soft Point:

…with which I managed this 100-yard grouping with the last 5 rounds in the box.

That’s close enough for government work (or anti-government work, depending on your circumstances).

Now that the scope is roughly zeroed, next week I’ll get serious and start running through the dozen-odd different brands and bullet weights I have lying around in Ye Olde Ammoe Locquer, to see which one works best.

What fun.

*I don’t wear heavy gloves when shooting, anyway — in very cold weather (e,g, Scotland), I use the flip-off mitten type over thin gloves.

Lying Bastards

We all know that politicians lie like, well, Democrats;  so it should come as no surprise to anyone that wannabe-POTUS Joe Hidin’ is talking bullshit again, albeit through surrogates:

Attempts to conceal and lie about Biden and Harris’s gun control positions are a tacit admission that the public does not want the gun control these candidates pursue. If such measures have the popularity their backers often pretend they do, there would be no need to obscure their goals. Rather, gun control advocates and politicians understand that they cannot succeed if they are forthright with the electorate about their extreme positions.

We all know that Biden, Harris and all the other assholes blabbed their loathing for guns during their party’s primary elections, and tried to outdo each other when boasting about how much they were going to fuck over gun owners, take away their AR-15s and so on.

I know that after the primaries, which exist to rally the faithful, candidates usually “tack to the center” for the general elections.  Unfortunately (for these pricks), we all know what they have planned for us:  California- and Australia- style laws and regulations designed to make gun ownership difficult and cumbersome, and (probably) gun registration and -confiscation.   Are they promising all that?  No, of course not:  it’s all driven by “need”,

Simple replay to all this mendacity:  fuck off, Sparky.  No amount of reassurance from Biden and Harris are going to pull the wool over our eyes, so they might as well give it all up and run on the Gun Control & Confiscation ticket.

They’re going to get crushed whatever they do.

Gratuitous Gun Pic: Benelli R1 (.30-06 Springfield)

Once again, amidst my occasional ponderings about The Gun Thing, several factors have occurred to me, to whit:

  • There are an awful lot of people who think that the venerable (and venerated) .30-06 cartridge is God’s answer to the question “Are there too many deer in the world?” and/or “How best should I kill that Bad Person?”
  • Most rifles thus chambered are bolt-action, and found everywhere in these United States
  • The non-bolt-action .30-06 rifles are pretty much confined to the venerable (and venerated) WWII-era M1 Garand, and the modern Browning BAR.

Not one of these things is Bad.  The .30-06 is a monster when it comes to dealing death, at pretty much any range, as several thousand WWII-era Kraut- and Jap soldiers would attest (if they were still with us);  there are a jillion-odd bolt-action rifles thus chambered, and therefore cartridge availability passes the “Bubba’s Bait & Ammo Store” criterion;  most semi-auto .30-06 rifles owned are likely to be of the Garand genus — and considering that Gen. George S. Patton once called the M1 Garand “the greatest battle implement ever devised by Man” (or something like that), there are very few knocks you can make against the Garand, either.  Ditto the BAR.

Except for cost.  M1 Garands can be costly, simply because of their pedigree (and therefore collectability), so the cost of entry, so to speak, can be pretty daunting.  Here’s a typical example from Collectors:

…which runs at just under $1,700.  (And if you think that’s expensive, the “National Match” version costs nearly three times as much.)

So what else is out there, for someone who wants a semi-auto rifle chambered in .30-06?  Here’s the Benelli R1, for example, also at Collectors, for just under $1,300 (about the cost of a new unscoped BAR Mk3, incidentally):

and the R1 has a 10-round detachable magazine, to boot.  From the Benelli website:

(Note its current non-availability, but I suspect that this is a temporary situation.)  The price, of course, is nosebleed because Benelli (as anyone who’s ever contemplated buying one of their shotguns can attest);  but you could buy four extra mags for the R1, and still come out around the same cost of a single M1 Garand.

And yes of course, the R1 is a modern rifle, ergo saddled with a poxy (epoxy?) stock, which sets my teeth on edge;  but if you told me I’d have no choice but the R1 to take out into the field — for any purpose — I would not feel myself short-changed at all.   (“Gimme!”  comes to mind.)

Note too that this particular R1 comes with a very toothsome Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14x50mm scope — which alone sells for $700-$750 nowadays.

Other than my distaste for Technik durch Plastik  stocks, if I were in the market for a .30-06 rifle, I can’t think of a single reason not to consider this one.

New Kid In Town

Loyal Readers will have noted my increasing irritation about not having a Mauser (or at least a Mauser-type bolt action) in my niggardly collection (following the Great Canoeing Disaster On The Brazos or maybe it was the Colorado).  It was exacerbated by my inability to bring back the Mauser I had bought in Britishland without having to pay a boatload [sic]  of money to H.M Government.

So here I sat, Mauser-less — the first time in ages I’d been in that sad condition — and just snarled at people (such as Mr. Free Market and Doc Russia) who seem to have been trying to get rifle manufacturers to go to 24-hour shifts, so much have they been augmenting their own collections.  Were I a paranoid man (I’m not), I might have thought it was a conspiracy.

Anyway, all my human sacrifices to Vulcan (don’t ask) must finally have caught the old man’s attention, because in talking to a distributor’s sales rep at one of our local gun pushers’ establishments, I managed to snag a slightly-used demo CZ 550 American at a price which would make people start sticking pins into my effigy, were I ever to publish it.   It was severely discounted because… it’s chambered in 6.5x55mm Swedish, “And everybody wants to shoot 6.5 Creed nowadays, and not that old bullet.”

Well, not everybody.  And not everybody happens to love CZ 550 rifles as much as I do, either.  (Cliff Notes:  excellent out-of-the-box accuracy,  fabled quality and reliability, controlled-feed action and set trigger.)

So I paid the man, waited for it to arrive, took it home and ordered a scope (which will be the topic of another post once it arrives and I’ve mounted and zeroed it).

But in the meantime… Your Humble Narrator is no longer Mauser-less, and a huge gaping hole in his shooting capability and nearly-empty gun cabinet  has been filled.

We Have A Winner !!!!!

Just to remind you all what we’re talking about, here:

And the lucky winner is… [drumroll]

Reader RonC of 230  Rd [rest redacted for security reasons]

Ron, email me your town / state/ ZIP details (so I know the right man is going to get it).

And also, your local FFL details (get the official data from them;  “Bubba’s Guns & Bait Shop” won’t cut it).  The sooner I get all the above, the sooner it speeds off to you, and the sooner you can start breaking your shoulder having fun with your new toy.

Congratulations !!!!!!

And for the rest of you losers unlucky people, there’s always next year.

Like the last time, I was terrified that someone I know very well would win.  Happily, I’ve never met the man in person, so it’s all good.

And here’s the attestation: