Taking A Hammering

So the morning after the day of the Salon Privé at Blenheim Palace (see here and here, below), I was rudely awoken by Mr. Free Market hammering on my door with a cheery, “Come on! Let’s go do a little shooting!”

Now I have to admit that I’m not the drinker I used to be, and the Whisky Hobgoblins were using jackhammers on the inside of my skull. Still, a little plinking at rabbits with .22 rifles somewhere on the Free Market Towers estate couldn’t hurt, I thought as I stumbled from my bed.

Did I say “.22 rifles”? Not really. Mr. FM (who is obviously made of sterner stuff than I) had decided that we were going to do some serious shooting, as evidenced by the rifles he was stowing away in the back of the Land Rover. They are, from top to bottom: Blaser R8 in .300 WinMag, Blaser double in .30R (the Euro equivalent of the .30-06), another Blaser double in .375 H&H Magnum, and my Mauser M12 in 6.5x55mm (in Mr. FM’s words, “so that you won’t get too banged about”).

Fortunately, a couple pints of strong black coffee restored my health somewhat (I turned down a suggestion of “a hair of the dog” from Fiend FM), so off we went.

At the Corinium shooting range up in Gloucestershire, Mr. FM and I first sighted in our single-barreled rifles from the bench — I discovered that the difference in zero between a 6.5x55mm bullet of 140 grains and 120 grains amounted to approximately 1″ per 10 grains, i.e. a zero with a 140-grain bullet meant that the zero drifted up 4″ when shooting the lighter 120-grain one — while Mr. FM fired but two rounds of .300 WInMag, got a quarter-inch group in the bull and declared himself satisfied (as well he should be), and then we went downrange to play with the double rifles. (All pics by Mr. FM, by the way.) Here’s what we were shooting (l-r: Merkel .470 Nitro, Blaser .375 H&H, and Blaser .30R):

…and from the business end:

Dear Readers, I’m not going to use my hangover as an excuse for what followed.

I have always prided myself on being able to shoot offhand competently from a standing position — in the past, I have been capable of sideplate-sized groups at close range (25 yards) — but I haven’t had much (okay, any) practice in this particular discipline in several years, and boy, did it show. Here’s a pic of the fiasco:

Shooting Mr. FM’s .375 H&H double, the first shot was a clear miss of the deer — about a half-inch below the body, the second marginally better (in that it actually hit the deer silhouette), but the bullet strike was still about a quarter-inch outside the kill-zone. Result in real life: a wounded deer. Ugh. Even worse, I fired a few more rounds with range owner Paul’s Merkel .470 Nitro Express (loaded with bunny-fart practice ammo) and I still couldn’t hit anything. And recoil was not an issue, either. Here are the pre- and post pics which demonstrate the recoil — which was not excessive.

Shit. Poor shooting like this is total bullshit, and I cannot allow that to stand. So when I get back Over The Pond in two weeks’ time, I am going to be putting in some extensive trigger time in Texas on my offhand shooting: of that you can be sure.

I can only apologize to Mr. FM and Paul for my pathetic shooting, but I promise that the next time, I will not make a fool of myself again.

On a side note: I have got to lose some weight — fucking hell, I look nine months pregnant — so there’ll also be a lot less fork time when I get back.

Range Report: Mauser M12 (6.5x55mm)

Just got back from the range, where I gave the new Mauser M12 its first serious shooting. Here she is, topped with a Minox ZX5 2-10x50mm scope (with an illuminated German #4 reticle) and tipped with a moderator (a.k.a. “suppressor”):

…and for those interested in such things, the stock detail:

“Yes, yes, Kim; that’s all very well, but how does it shoot?”

First I fired a few lighter bullet weights (120 grain), just to warm up the barrel and foul it up a little. I left the sights at 1″ over center, and then got serious, using some RWS 140-grain hollowpoints:

Yikes. With only a tiny sight adjustment, I ended up getting sub-MOA (1cm) groups (with apologies for the metric nonsense, but that’s how the spotter called them) — that’s slightly less than 1/2″ groups at the 100-meter mark.

I took off the scope (via the quick-release Mauser ring system) and put it back on again — same zero, same groups. So that operation works.

Then I removed the moderator — which, by the way, I want to marry so it can have my children — and added a simple muzzle brake, just to see the difference, and popped off a couple of rounds. Much louder, same point of impact.

Mr. FM tried it out, and although the point of impact shifted (he’s a left-hander, ’nuff said), his groups were similarly sized.

He, by the way, was practicing with his Blaser R8 in .300 WinMag:

…which shall henceforth be known as the “DANE” (Death To Anything At The Naughty End) rifle.

Come to think of it, mind you: that could also be the name of my M12. Another few hundred rounds, and I’ll be really comfortable with it, although it must be said that I’m more than halfway there already. What a lovely little piece.

Here we both are, after a good cleaning:

Learning To Shoot Again

As Longtime Readers will know, I am reasonably proficient with most firearms: more so with rifles, less so with handguns — and hardly at all with shotguns.

Of course, I’ve fired many, many shotguns of all descriptions: Browning A5s, Berettas, Franchis and so on, to name but some. But except at, shall we say, bedroom range, I would not consider myself at all skilled with a shotgun. Certainly, I’m out of practice: the last time I shot clay pigeons was in 2005, at the Royal Berkshire Gun Club in these here British Isles. And come November I’m going to be doing some High Bird Shooting with Mr. FM (who is astonishingly good at the activity), so to avoid embarrassment, some instruction was obviously needing to be acquired.

So the very day after the Great Mauser Incident of 2017, Mr. FM took me to the Barbury Shooting Club in Wiltshire to get some shotgunning lessons.
These are the shotguns used on the day: my little side-by-side Kestrel 20ga, and Mr. FM’s o/u Berettas.

My instructor Derek was a gem: endlessly patient, highly knowledgeable and quick to both criticize and praise.

“That’s the naughty end of the gun, Kim, and here’s what you’ll be aiming for.”

“Shoot the clay, Kim, not the tower.”


“That probably scared the bird, but no more than that.”


“That’s better. A few thousand more shots like that, and you’ll be close to average.”

Suffice it to say, Mr. FM noted at one point that I was hitting about three out of four clays, so at least I wasn’t making a complete fool of myself. His strike rate, I noticed, was very close to 100% — I think he missed maybe three clays all day, with far more “pulls” than I had. (This is why I can’t shoot enough; I refuse to look stupid next to him when we go to Portledge.)

I have absolutely no complaints about the gun. “My” Kestrel shotgun was a delight to shoot, and is far more accurate than I can shoot it. And yes, I was wearing a glove on my left hand, and the black thingy on the barrels is a leather sleeve — both designed to prevent blisters from a (very) hot gun barrel. This was very much necessary because after about a hundred rounds of 20-gauge delight, I had no blisters. I did, however, have a fist-sized bruise on my shoulder.

Don’t care. My next lesson can’t come soon enough. And I’m no fortune-teller, but I believe I can see several practice sessions coming before November…

Ambushed

The day after my Lord’s pilgrimage, Mr. FM suggested we take a quiet drive into the Cotswolds, some few miles north-west of FM Towers. He knows that I’m not one for scenic drives just for the drive’s sake, so he mentioned the magical words “in the Porsche” — and needless to say, that was sufficient incentive for me to agree.

So we footled around along English country roads — me oohing and aaahing at Teh Scenery, which is spectacular: rolling hills, forest glades, farmers doing Farming Things, etc. Of course, it being a lovely day (sunny, warm, bees buzzing lazily etc.) there were the usual problems (i.e. cyclists), but the oncoming roar of a 3.6-liter Porsche engine usually had the desired effect of sending them flying into roadside ditches, which is all part of the fun of a summer drive. Then things took a turn for the worse. Much worse.

We turned off the country road onto what can best be described as a farm road and ended up at a series of farm-type buildings. Over the door of one such building was a sign which read, cryptically, “R.J. Blackwall”. What place is this, I wondered, and then we went inside.

 

Rupert Blackwall is one of the pre-eminent Mauser dealers in the British Isles.

O My Readers, I need first to give you a teeny bit of background so you can fully appreciate what was to follow. In the Great Time Of Poverty when I was forced to sell almost all my guns, I found myself, for the first time in my life, Mauserless. Never mind Mauser lookalikes or derivatives thereof; ever since I can remember, I’ve had at least one actual Mauser rifle in my gun cabinet — in fact, my very first gun purchase in the U.S. was a Mauser 98K. Since the Great Poverty, some four years ago, I’ve been without a Mauser — a fact I’d once lamented to Mr. FM, en passant — and only now did his devilment come to light. You see, he’d seen my reaction to the exquisite M12 I’d fired only a week before at the Corinium range and thus, I believe, had schemed a visit to this… this temple to Vulcan’s Dark Arts.

Of course, that’s not how he played it, the foul man; he chatted with Mr. Blackwall — a gunsmith of considerable skill and knowledge, having been trained at E.J. Churchill — about some rifle he was considering for his next African safari, leaving me to wander around the store and browse among (actually, drool over) the store’s wares.

First I saw a matched pair of AyA 20-gauge side-by-side shotguns (which I will need for future High Bird Shooting excursions), but I knew that the cost thereof was going to be silly: and in pounds sterling, still more so. With a deep sigh, I moved on. Until I came to the “second-hand” rack…

..and there it was: a barely-fired Mauser M12, in… 6.5x55mm (my favorite medium caliber of all), at a price that, when translated into U.S. greenbacks, was not expensive at all. In fact, it was… affordable.

Of course, one can’t just buy a rifle and walk out of the door with it, not in Merrie Olde England, oh no. In fact, I thought that I would not be able to purchase any gun, because (as we all know) in the U.S. such things are streng verboten (as I’d discovered when first I emigrated and wanted to buy a gun). Well, no. In the U.S., not anyone can buy a gun, but anyone can own a gun (mostly). In Britain, it’s the reverse. I could buy the gun, but I couldn’t take possession of it — it would have to go onto a British gun owner’s license — until such time as I would leave the U.K. And of course, standing right next to me, with an evil leer on his aristocratic features, there was just such a British gun owner.

All that remained was to give Mr. Blackwall my credit card.

I’ll be “testing” it over the coming weeks at Corinium, once I get a decent scope on it. Range report(s) and pics to follow.

And most important of all, I am no longer Mauserless, so all my old Boer forefathers can stop spinning in their graves.

Not Bisley

Apparently, Royal Bisley is mostly populated by People Who Treat Shooting Seriously — i.e., not my kind of people at all, because I prefer having fun at the shooting range. So instead, Mr. FM booked us time at a private range, where we could do just that. Here’s a view downrange at 100 meters (ugh, metric is everywhere Over Here).

…and I played with several rifles: the aforementioned Blaser 93 in 6.5x55mm Swede, Combat Controller’s Browning .300 WinMag (which has completely recovered from its earlier Scottish mishap, and is capable of shooting minute-of-angle — MOA — at 100 meters, just not by me — I could only manage 2″ groups because eyes), and finally, a Mauser M12 “Impact” in .308 Win.

As Longtime Readers know, I have either a soft spot or a hard-on for Mauser rifles, depending on whether I’m talking about them or I’ve just shot one. Good grief. Thus equipped, I can honestly say that the M12 is in the top three rifles I have ever fired — and let me tell you, that encompasses an awful lot of rifles. With this rifle, minute-of-angle wasn’t just easy, it was a breeze. If you look in the center of the pic above and see the boar-shaped steel target, and squint to see the 4″ heart/lung target area “flipper” plate, I was hitting that flipper dead center with every single shot.

Let me go further: if I was told I could only ever own one medium rifle, you’d have to talk me out of choosing the M12. (I’d get the “regular” model with wood stock, of course, because Kim; but I think you catch my drift.)

 

And by the way: if anyone knows a way we can get Our Rulers in D.C. to pass the Hearing Protection Act (which will finally take moderators off the NFA list), feel free to apply that particular cattle prod to their backsides.

 

 

Trigger Time 1

Tomorrow afternoon, Mr. FM and I will be off to Royal Bisley or somewhere to shoot some guns. For my stay, my generous host has reached deep into his gun safe(s) and made available to me the following:

From the top, they are

  • Blaser R93 in 6.5x55mm Swede (my favorite medium cartridge of all time) — Mr. FM even put a wooden stock back onto the piece for me, such is his hospitality — and yes, that’s a Swarovski 4-12x scope resting on it.
  • GMK Kestrel in 20ga. I cannot wait to put this little beauty through her paces, but she’ll have to wait till we get to a sporting clay facility.
  • Norwegian Army surplus K98 “Sniper” in 7.62x51mm NATO — ooooh, baby, come to Papa. (I may try to buy this one from Mr. FM, but I fear his hospitality does have some limits, damn it.)

There will also be some .300 WinMag frivolity — apparently, Combat Controller left his Scotland Deer Slayer rifle and a few hundred rounds of “test” ammo behind, and wants me to make sure his rifle still functions properly after an accident the last time he was Over Here. Well, who can resist the request of a friend, right?

No doubt my shoulder will be owie after all that fun, but a few pints of 6X / gin should take care of it.

Feel free to vent feelings of jealous rage, etc. in Comments.