Three Old Farts Walk Into The Range…

So I took myself off to the range yesterday, accompanied by these two other old guys:


Here’s the final five-round string for the Mauser, at 100 yards, bench rest (elbows, not sandbag), shooting Sellier & Bellot 195-gr FMJ:

I’d noted in earlier targets that the gun was shooting high, hence the low hold.  However:  while I could sort of make out the front sight, the back V sight (tiny, as all Mauser shooters know) was simply an amorphous blur, and I had absolutely no idea whether I had the sight picture properly aligned, or not.  Here’s a rough idea of what I’m talking about:


…only the rear V was even more blurred than that, making it impossible to get a clear and consistent sight picture.

It’s not the rifle;  it’s me;  although I am a little concerned that it’s shooting so high, it might just be that I was shooting with sight pictures #2 or #5.

I need to get my eyes fixed, pronto.

Anyway, on to the (post-’64) Winchester 94.  This time, I set the target at 50 yards, and figuring that it would shoot high, I held the same point of aim.  These were all fired offhand (standing, unsupported), because I doubt very much whether I’ll ever benchrest it.  Ammo was Winchester Super-X 170gr SP:

Unlike for the Mauser, I fired no “warm-up” shots, just loaded some rounds into the tube and let fly:  I know how to shoot a lever rifle.

Just not this one.  The first five shots were all over the place because I discovered that there’s absolutely no take-up in the trigger:  once the hammer is cocked, apply about 3lbs of pressure, and off she goes.  So I took my time with the last two (#6 and #7) and was amply rewarded.

For some reason, the little “buckhorn” rear- and brass bead front sights were a lot easier to line up properly, compared to the Mauser’s V/conical setup.  Also, the Winchester’s sight radius (distance between back- and front sights) is 17″, compared to the Mauser’s 20″, which means that when I’m focusing on the front sight, the lever gun’s rear sight is a lot more in focus than that of the K98.

I should also admit that twenty rounds of 8x57mm took quote a toll on my shoulder, whereas the .30-30 was an absolute breeze by comparison.  Next time I shoot the Mauser, I’ll use either a shoulder pad or a removable rubber pad to help my ancient shoulder handle the recoil.

What fun.


Note:  Ammo for both rifles came from J&G Sales.  I paid a small premium for the S&B for two reasons:  I hate shooting corrosive ammo, and I trust the Czech ammo to be consistent (as it has been for me in the past).  Likewise, I bought the Winchester ammo because the thought of shooting Winchester ammo through a Winchester rifle gave me a warm & fuzzy feeling.

7 comments

  1. Years ago (okay decades ago) after I purchased a “post-64” Winchester 1894, I read about “pre-64” being much better quality due to changes in manufacturing. I was never quite sure if that was true (desirable yes, but better?), but I filed it away mentally. Earlier this year, to my surprise, my modest bid won an auction for a quite old “pre-64” Winchester.

    I haven’t had the chance to shoot it yet, but I tracked down the details and it was a special order rifle built way back in 1904. It was then I realized that the “venerable” 1894 Winchester had only been around for 10 years when mine was manufactured. It has me wondering if there’s such a thing as too much “pre-64”?

  2. In my dotage I find that I much prefer aperture sights such as found on the Garand or Enfield No 4. Even 30+ years ago I had trouble with the Mauser style sights and I don’t think that I was alone – maybe that’s why the Germans relied on the bullet hose MG42 as their primary squad weapon rather than aimed rifle fire.

    Lots of Mausers were made into deer rifles after WW2 and the first thing Bubba did was to mount a scope so that he could actually hit something.

    I found that some white paint on the front sight helped a bit on my old Yugo Mauser.

  3. I agree about the Enfield sights, the vernier aperture in the lowest position shoots just an inch or two high at 100 years on my gun. The tiny v back sight on Mausers was designed for young Krauts to shoot, not old geezers like us. With my old military rifles I am reluctant to modify anything because gun that sold for $20 to $30 fifty years ago are now worth a lot as historical firearms instead of being our kid guns when we were in high school in the 1960’s. I also can relate to the shoulders not liking the heavier recoil.

  4. I had gotten to the point where even with my glasses, the rear sight on my lever guns was just a blob. I could shoot handguns, but had to tilt my head back slightly for the middle prescription my tri-focals.

    Had cataract surgery/lens replacement surgery for both eyes back in April. Now I can see all my iron sights. Only have to wear safety glasses. Also had surgery on my left eye two weeks ago for a “macular pucker”. Went fine, just takes awhile for nerve tissue to fully heal.

    Kim, if I can help answer and questions about eyeballs, you have my email.

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