Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Experimenting with different ammo

I've been shooting Norinco 7.61x51 out of my Norinco M14, only because it was the cheapest ammo around.  I guess I haven't really considered accuracy from the ammo because I've been busy trying to get my scope to sit straight.  My buddy Roy recently sorted out my scope mount issues and it's finally straight.  So for the first time since I've had my M14, I actually have my scope pointed in the same direction as the round is going, haha!

Anyway, the other day, I took my M14 as well as my new Remington 700P to zero the scopes, as well as break in the new rifle.  I've heard a few different methods on breaking in a new rifle, and to be honest, I've never, ever done this with any of my firearms.  The 700p is probably the most expensive toy in my collection so I decided I'd better do this one properly.  I decided to follow the advice of my buddy Hermes from Reliable Gun, and clean my rifle every three rounds for the first 20 rounds.  I know some people do it every round, some clean for more rounds, some less, but if this method didn't work, I'll learn for next time.

I got a variety of ammo to try out and I'll update how each type did as I get to testing it.  Remember, this review is from someone who's fairly new to shooting, and a bit of a crappy shot.  I did my best to keep my lack of skill out of the variables by shooting off a bench, rifle supported in the front with a bi-pod, loaded forward, and the read butt stock supported with a sandbag, and pulled in as tight into my shoulder as possible, without it affecting trigger squeeze.

2014-01-20 -  I took a variety of ammo to the range today, however the results are a bit skewed.  I shot three rounds per brand at 100m and 200m.  The reason it's skewed is because I repeated some brands a few times, and others only one repetition.   Next time, I'll have to bring some more ammo, and spend more time to do it.

Something else I'll have to take into account, different point of impact for different grain bullets, and which grain to zero my rifle for.  I had it zeroed initially with my 150gr Federal blue box, but when I shot the heavier 168gr SMK and Hornady Match, they were both landing one mildot lower.  Also, I'm not entirely sure, but I had the feeling that my rifle was stabalizing the 150 grain better at times than the 168, but I'll have to shoot more to find out.

Something to think about for my personal reference:

Remington 700P 26" barrel, 1-12" twist
Remington 5R 24" barrel, 1-11.25" twist
Savage 10TR 24" barrel, 1-10" twist.

What it all means, I have no idea at the moment.  I'll update this post after I figure it out.

One thing I learned from today's experience is don't cheap out on a stapler, haha!  My stapler crapped out on me today, and it was pretty crappy running out to the 200m mark and not be able to put up my targets.  Anyway, based on the results today, it looks like

2014-01-08 - Norinco 7.62x51mm  - it's decent ammo for plinking.  It's copper cased, so not re-loadable, and it's pretty dirty, but not corrosive.  I didn't check to see the grouping size at 50 meters, just shot at that range to get it on paper.  I'll have to take it out to the range next time and see how well it does at 100 meters and 200 meters.  At least I got the new Bushnell Elite Tactical 5-15 x 40mm dialed in to the general direction the round is going, haha!

2014-01-20 - Norinco 7.62x51mm
100m - 4.67in
200m - 5.1in/pie-plate

2014-01-08 - PPU 145gr .308 - This is what I used to break in my 700p.  PPU 145gr, made in Serbia.  It was dirt cheap (about $14 for 20 rounds) and that's why I bought it at the time.  At 50 meters, it was dead on accurate and nailed the bullseye no problem.  Stretching out to 100 meters, the grouping spread out to a fist size, and out to 200 meters, the groupings were about a pie plate.  Haha, according to my buddy's, that's a pretty crappy grouping for the Remington 700p.  I'd like to chalk it up to the cheap ammo, but it could just be my incredibly poor skill as a shooter.  Anyway, this first box was about breaking the rifle in, and just getting rounds on paper.  I'll focus on marksmanship and recording the findings more formally the next time.

2014-01-20 - PPU 145gr .308
100m - 3.3in
200m -  1.85in

2014-01-08 - CBC 7.62x51mm, brass cased, made in Brazil.  It looks prettier than the Norc ammo, but I'm not sure if it performs better.  I tried it out at 100 meters and 200 meters, and it was fairly inconsistent.  At 100 meters, it was getting fist size groupings and at 200 it was about the size of a pie plate, just like the PPU.  This ammo was inexpensive as well, probably worked out to around $13 for 20 rounds or so.  I'll try out some better ammo and see if it's my skill or the ammo that got me minute-of-pie plate, haha!

2014-01-20 - CBC 7.62x51mm
100m - 3.13in
200m -  3.3in

2014-01-08 - Federal 150gr .308 - I picked up this ammo from Lever Arms today, I heard that sometimes people have some luck with the cheaper stuff in their 700s (haha, as if I haven't learned better from using cheap ammo a la PPU or CBC).

2014-01-20 - Federal 150gr .308
100m - 1.54in
200m - 2.18in

2014-01-08 - Hornady 168gr .308 Match - bought it when I got my 700p, recommended as decent ammo to zero in my rifle.  I just about shit myself when I saw the price tag of $32.50 for a box of 20.  It was more than double what I used to think was already fancy ammo (the cheap Serbian and Brazillian brass cased stuff from above).

2014-01-20 - Hornady 168gr .308 Match
100m -  1.63in
200m - 1.2in

2014-01-08 - Federal Premium 168gr .308 Sierra Match King.  I've been reading a lot online about this ammo, and supposedly this should get some decent groupings from a good shooter.  We'll see, haha!  At $46.50, it's the most expensive ammo I've bought to date.  I know, I shouldn't whine considering there's far more expensive ammo out there, and nobody said shooting was a cheap hobby.

2014-01-20 - Federal Premium 168gr .308 Sierra Match King
100m - 2.28in
200m -  3.45in

Here's a post I wrote on Canadian Gun Nutz:

Apologies for digging up old threads, but threads like these are real eye-openers for noobs like me. The wifey bought me a 700p for Christmas, and thought I was going to be the international sniper. I’d read a few articles about how this rifle was capable of 1 MOA out of the box so I was pretty excited. By the way, I’m so new, I only recently learned what MOA meant. Just to make sure, it means a 1in group at 100 yards or 2.908cm at 100 meters?).

So I take my new rifle out to the range, and try out one of the many “break-in” methods, and also try to get my scope pointed in the general direction the bullets are going. I try to remove as many variables as possible (ie, shooter error) and try to remember the principles of marksmanship. I put some load on the bipod by applying some pressure forwards as I was taught for machine guns (I know, the 700 is not a machine gun, but the only firearm I had experience with that had a bipod was the C6 and C9). I also rested the stock on a sandbag, and pulled the stock into my shoulder (or was it push my shoulder into the stock?) with as little strain as possible, all while trying to retain a natural body alignment in relation to the rifle.

All this stuff seemed to work with my C7 as I nailed a 69 out of 70 score on my last range test (overconfidence starting to brew here), so I was expecting to get some decent groups with my new bolt gun. To get it to print on the target sheet, I let my first round off at 50 meters. Setting the scope at zero was a little off, but I adjusted the windage and elevation on my Bushnell 6500 4.5-30 x 50mm and my second round was dead centre of the Canada Ammo target sheet I brought with me. I’m starting to get really confident now, but my focus is still on breaking in the rifle properly so spent more time putting patches through the barrel than rounds.

Anyway, I’ve managed a 3 round clover at 50 meters, so in my head, I’m already making plans to apply for the CF Sniper team. I decide to test out my new found sniper skills and direct my attention to the target sheet I had set up at 100 meters. The rounds are landing in a group that’s about the size of a fist. Ok, maybe it’s because the barrel isn’t broken in yet, or maybe it some freak gusts of wind down by the target sheet, or maybe the ammo, it certainly couldn’t be me, the Marksman waiting for his Cross Rifles badge for his DEUs because I shot 69 out of 70 with my C7 (completely ignoring the fact that I just had to hit the target, not necessarily get precision groups).

Well, it’s on paper, and it’s the size of a fist, let’s see how well the rifle does at 200 meters. I get minute- of-pie plate. WTF. At 300 meters, I get better groupings with my C7 (maybe half a pie plate, haha!). Automatically I assume my 700 is flawed. Ego deflated, head hung low, I’m too embarrassed to make eye to eye contact with Collin, the RO at the PCDFHC range, as I try to sneak off the line to go home.

I get home, start looking online and begin to read about ammo. I just discover that the precision rifle aspect of my gun hobby is probably going to cost more than the bottomless money pit I call my AR. Up until now, I’ve been shooting the cheapest ammo I can find. Since my crappy eyes can’t see past 50 meters without magnification, cheap ammo worked out to that range in my AR, and I never had my Norc M14 dialed in properly until recently. Using the cost of the Norc 7.62x51mm as a base, I sourced out my “fancy precision” ammo based on that cost, and dug up PPU 145gr .308 (obviously, I should have done a bit more research before heading off to the range). A few more visits to the LGS and I’m beginning to realize, that $hit ammo could result in poor performance (at least I hoped it was the ammo). So, a 20 round box of PPU can be had for as low as $15, but if I want the performance I’ve been reading about, I could be looking at going as high as $46.50 for Federal Premium .308 Sierra Matchkings. This is going to be an expensive hobby. Now I have to start thinking about getting into reloading and all the rest of it if I don’t want to blow $46.50 for a box of 20.

Well, anyway, that’s been my experience with the reality of precision shooting so far. I’m not sure if spending $46 will tighten up my groups to 1 MOA until the next time I go to the range, but a lot of noobs like me think that just because we get a bolt action rifle with the words Police, or Military or Tactical stamped on the side, throw some glass on it, we’re going to be instant snipers. Not quite the reality. It looks like a steep learning curve, and I’m looking straight up at a skyscraper. But still, it looks like a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to learning the aspects of precision shooting. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to produce groupings a bit better than I did my first trip out.

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