|Targets shown are at ~400 and ~600 yards. Targets were from Accurate Products.|
There were racks of targets at 100 yard (roughly) intervals from 100-800 yards. It was in the high 40s, but a screaming 20mph northwest wind had the temperature feeling like the mid-30s, and humidity was low, according to the app on my phone. Whining about the weather aside, I was able to get on a 16" gong at 300yds in three shots with 55gr handloads launching 55gr Remington flat-base bullets that I bought CHEAP about five years ago. I got my eye in with these cheap loads before switching to my 69gr Sierra MatchKings, which are relatively expensive and I only brought 50 of them to the field.
This brings me to the first thing I learned. Boat tail bullets shake off wind better than flat base. Also, heavier bullets do better than lighter bullets. This is sort of a "duh" moment, but looking at numbers on a computer screen don't really drive the point home like learning, then re-learning your hold about ten minutes apart. Once I was comfortable, I switched to my SMKs and had the nice fellow next to me spot while I took a poke at 600. And to my surprise, I hit the sonofabitch on the first try.
And that leads neatly into the second thing I learned. Using hold-over instead of dialing a shot is WAY faster, but you do sacrifice precision. I prefer holds primarily because that's what I was taught. Also, I'm nobody's sniper. The difference between me and a natural sniper is the difference between a mule and a battleship. But, if you learn your holds well enough, you can eliminate a lot of math and time between shots. This is great if you're an infantryman, and not so great if you're a SWAT sniper trying to save a hostage with a well-placed head shot. For hunting, I could go either way, but I'd probably just not take a terribly difficult shot to avoid wounding the animal.
To allow my rifle to cool, I took some breaks and shot my Beretta PX4 Compact 9mm at the 100 yard silhouette, and did shockingly well. From prone I was able to hit 12 of 15, and from standing I was able to hit 4 of 5 (I was loading 5rds at a time to save ammo). That little gun is a shooter. I have no idea what my groups were like, but I'll take it. Also, to be honest, I went 0 of 5 when I tried after lunch. I'd been in the cold too long and was being a sissy. I couldn't pull the trigger correctly to save my life.
While I'm on gear reviews, my Nikon P-223 3x32mm scope has proven to be shockingly good value. Is it combat gear? No. No way. But it is really clear, holds zero, and Nikon's ballistic computer (which is available FREE online) told me my holds, which were dead on. If you need a scope and can only afford $130, I HIGHLY recommend the P-223 3x32. If you're going to combat, get a loan and buy an ACOG M150.
I also dusted off my Yugoslav 24/47 Mauser, which I plan to use for rifle season in January. I took my final 7 rounds of Remington 170gr soft point and hit the 100yd silhouette a miserable 3 of 7 times. Noting a leftward tendency, I grabbed some steel core surplus and shot a five-round group at 25 yards, and was slightly horrified to find it was 3" left of center. At this point, I was under the impression that the hood on the front sight was soldered on. I felt slightly sick seeing that group.
But upon doing some Google-fu, I found really vague instructions on how to remove it (most of which were wrong). So, if you need to zero a 24/47 Mauser, here's how you do it. First, drive the sight hood off with a brass or plastic mallet. Drive it back toward the action, NOT toward the crown of the barrel. Then, use your AK/SKS sight pusher to drift the front sight. As luck would have it, my Mauser had a witness mark chieseled into the sight and base. I just drifted the sight until the marks lined up. I will take it out again in a few weeks (I'm a busy man) and see if the marks are true.
With that, I leave you to get out there and sling some lead. 24/47 Mauser owners rejoice and zero your rifles. Then take some long shots.