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Old November 10, 2009, 11:30 PM   #1
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Join Date: January 6, 2005
Location: NSW Australia
Posts: 254
Petes New Rifle. Arrival and Sight-in.

After scouring every gun shop in Sydney, Pete found the deal he wanted. He hadn’t discussed the scope selection with me and I had no idea what he’d eventually buy. I’m a Nightforce fan so I thought that might have some influence. I was wrong. As I mentioned in the last post, the choice was a Schmidt and Bender, a good combination with the Sako 85.

After purchasing the new piece, Pete was keen to show it off and more importantly, ask for some advice. I stopped in to see him and was presented with the rifle. What a beauty! Light, balanced and comes up to your shoulder naturally.

There’s something about a modern hunting rifle. If you take a casual glance, they all look the same. The stock will have a tapered fore end, maybe a laminated nose. The butt will be a wedge with a straight comb, sometimes Monte Carlo. The barrel will be tapered and free floating. So, yes, they all look the same and that could be considered dull. The thing I appreciate however, is the fact that they are so refined. The form follows the function in the most elegant and purposeful way. The way all things should be designed. Less fluff, more purpose.

As I admired the machine before me, Pete sidled a up with a question. “Your wife is German isn’t she?” curious, I answered in the affirmative. “Oh good, do you think she’d translate something for me?” “Sure” I said ”What do you need translated?” . Pete looked a little sheepish, “the instructions for the scope” ! I was a little surprised at this. I’m used to Pete being extremely thorough with everything and not at all impulsive. “What about the scope don’t you understand Pete?” I asked “the reticle has dots on it and I don’t know how they work”. I took the caps off the scope and peered through. Yep, there they were, a vertical string of hold-over dots. “Can’t the shop you bought it from supply the information?” I queried, apparently not, they didn’t speak German either and the scope wasn’t supplied with a translated instruction book. Well actually, not the scope but the reticle, that was the problem. The scope was a Schmidt and Bender Classic 4-16x50 with a Varmint Dot 8 reticle. It was also a superb piece of kit. Excellent clarity and brightness, sharp as a tack but those dots, with no markings…. Hmmmm.

My wife knows nothing about rifles or scopes but she was a professional translator for fifteen years so doing the interpretation was a piece of cake. The information supplied for the reticle was nothing more than a sheet of paper, printed on both sides. Of this information, only a small part of it actually discussed the function of the dots. It turned out that the dots were intended to provide hold-over points for .223 and 22.250, varmint calibers, not 30.06. Upon hearing this news, I thought very badly of the shop that had supplied the scope. They’d sold it to Peter, specifically to go on this rifle without understanding the purpose of the reticle. Very slack. It smacked of a quick sale tactic, like they didn’t want to lose a sale on a premium scope so they just pulled one off the shelf and declared it to be the ideal model. The one thing about Pete is he’s a bit too trusting. If he thinks he’s getting expert advice, he’ll go with it. Nobody’s perfect

So as not to start a panic, I didn’t make a big deal about it and Pete seemed unmoved by the information about the dots. When I got home I did a quick comparison.
30.06 155Gn projectile, MV 3100 drop is: +1.4 @ 100yd, -6.6 @ 200yd, -19.2 @ 400yd and -36.6 @ 500yd

22.250 60Gn projectile, MV 3600 drop is: +1.0 @ 100yd, -5.4 @ 200yd, -16.3 @ 400yd and -34.8 @ 500yd

It makes the venerable 30.06 look pretty good really. 3600fps is strolling along for a 22.250 but to think the 30.06 is throwing a pill nearly three times the weight for only a couple of inches at 500yd is pretty impressive. Anyway, the next job was to get this combo sighted in and zeroed for 100yd.

Strangely enough, Peter has never visited a rifle range in his life. His method for sighting in and zeroing his rifles has always been to set up some targets in the field prior to commencing a hunt. This has served him well for decades, but for this classy new rig, science was required.

We arranged to go to a range out the west of Sydney to give the rifle its maiden outing. The range is run by the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia and is a bench only set up. I took my Steyr Tactical Elite and a box full of hand loads. Pete took some boxes of Remington ammo with 185gn soft points. Sighting in used up most of Petes ammo and I shot off my 175Gn SMK’s.

When we collected the targets, Pete looked at his groups and mine with a little jealousy . “Your groups are much better than mine” he said with some disappointment “Aww, c’mon Pete, those are perfectly good groups for a hunting rifle..” Pete was unconvinced “I want my groups to look like yours!” I explained that he’d have to go through a bunch of experimental hand loads to get an outcome like that “well, that’s what I’ll do” he declared.

Reset almost a month later. Pete had employed the owner of our best local gun shop to hand load some ammo for him in 0.5Gn increments. The projectiles were also seated further out to decrease the bullet jump. We went to the same range to test them and the results were a marked improvement, the groups had closed down from a couple of inches to less than one. Pete wasn’t satisfied, he wanted sub half-inch. Another round of refined hand loads a couple of weeks later brought the hoped for cloverleaf.

Throughout this process, the hold-over dots had been forgotten. I ventured to Pete that we should have a crack at the 200yd range. The big problem was that we had no spotting scope but the Schmidt and Bender is a good piece of glass and we could make out the impacts with some squinting. The 200yd results were very encouraging using the hold-over dot so we declared the day a success. Pete had his long range, hard-hitting rifle!

Next episode will be two firsts. Pete’s first deer hunt (he’s primarily a pig shooter) and the first hunt for the Sako.
"A firearm in the hands of a citizen is a danger to government. A firearm in the hands of a criminal is of benefit to government" Anon.
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