Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Range disgust.

Range time should never be associated with self-loathing, but nonetheless I am disgusted with today's session.  Even worse, it was a firearm range day:  rifle zeroing for hunting season (we start early up here).  Perhaps my mistake was that, owing to a years-long experience of very simple, straightforward zeroing sessions, I was mentally unprepared for things to go wrong.  They did.

The rifle was the Mannlicher Scout.  I had whomped up some handloads with 165s, and a backup set of 150s just in case the 165s didn't satisfy me.  The loading seemed to go swimmingly, and while I've only started to grind the reloadery into action recently, everything seemed to go well enough.  I carefully set once-fired-case shoulders back, had everything trimmed up nicely, and both gauge- and chamber-checked everything prior to leaving the house.

So, I was a bit surprised when cases were difficult to extract and two cartridges failed to ignite.  (One of those fired on a second strike, but the other didn't.)  The loads were acting much hotter than I'd have expected.  And I seemed to be chasing my sight settings all over the damn map, enough so that I probably should have just fired a few more rounds to make sure things could reasonably settle down.  With the cost of everything these days, this is really maddening!

Eventually I got frustrated enough that I put up a clean target and shot a few rounds of the factory FMJ ball that I keep with the Scout...and wouldn't you know it, they grouped, and at a point just about opposite of the cumulative back-and-forth of chasing the other stuff around.  Okay, so something--or multiple somethings--isn't right with the handloads.  Lovely.  And with my last couple rounds of ball, I believe I got the sights...right back to where they probably started the day.

The cosmic message was very clear, if aggravating:  given the now short time frame, acquire some factory loads for use this year, and don't mess around with load development until after the hunt.  Okay, I'm stubborn, but I will listen when a message is that freakin' clear.  Dammit.

(Okay, I realize that despite all my frustration, I must acknowledge that I still didn't fire a shot today that wouldn't have anchored an animal at the 100 yard line, and most shots up here are closer than that.  But still, I have a history with this rifle and I know what I can do with it, and it's frustrating to realize that something seems to be way off in my loads, and I need to scuttle them in favor of Plan B.  That's expensive in both time and money, at a time when I'm short of both.  But I'll do it, of course, because if I do get a shot I dang well want to know that if I fail it's on me alone.

Grumble.  I suppose I'm long overdue for such a hitch, but still...dang.


MamaLiberty said...

Perfectionism is quite often frustrating. :) I finally gave it up myself.

Good hunting!!

Kevin Wilmeth said...

Thanks Mama. I must admit to at least a bit of perfectionism, but I suspect in this case it was at least as much about simply mismatched expectations. I do try to allow for plenty of "don't expect what you used to be able to do", but sheesh, there are limits. :-)

Paul Bonneau said...

Been there, done that.

I was out shooting my 1885 in 6.5 TCU the other day, had two boxes, the first with already fireformed loads, the second with fire-forming loads. Same bullet, same brass, same powder, same everything. My fireformed loads made a substantially bigger group at 175 (my zero for this cartridge) than the fireforming loads did. Why, for heaven's sake? The fireforming loads gave me 75% neck splits. Why, when the other box never split a neck at all?

(Grumble, grumble...)

I guess I will look into annealing brass now...