Monday, October 17, 2005

Range Report - 10/22RRR

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I went to my gun club Saturday to spend some quality time with my newest rifle, the Ruger 10/22 TALO limited edition "Ruger Race Rifle." Saturday was also the day for every other hunter in San Diego County to get their rifles zeroed for deer season, apparently. I got a lane pretty quick, and I got preferential treatment since I'm a member, so it was ok, but let me explain something about southern California and our hunters.
There is nothing that lives in California, black bears and cougar included, that can't be taken with a .270 Win or a 7mm Rem Mag. The deer out here...well, most aren't even worth shooting. They're too small, too mangy. Ok. Can someone explain to me why, then, out of all the hunters I saw Saturday, only about 3 had reasonable deer cartridges? You don't need a .300 Win Mag or .300Wby for California deer. You don't need to shoot 220gr. .325WSM's at California deer. It's not necessary. What it did do was distract me a bit, so I switched to a 50yd lane at the other far end to get down to business. OK, another aside...Let's say you choose to buy and use a .300SAUM for deer season. You slap an $800 piece of glass on it and go to the range to sight it in, get it boresighted, fire ONE round, and decide it's too much gun.

Then you bitch about it a while, sit back down at a bench and put 10 bags of shot on your rifle to weight it down.
I am not exaggerating. Then, with what should easily be a 600 or 800 yard rifle, you proceed to shoot pie-plate sized groups at 100yds and feel good enough about yourself that you try and mock the guy shooting a rimfire in the lane next to you. Only problem is, when you retrieve your targets, you still have a pie-plate sized group and the rimfire guy has groups that look like this. I don't get the whole gun range idiot mentality. Whatever...

Anyway. I spent some time looking at scopes and settled on a Barska 3-12x40 with mil-dots and an adjustable objective that was "designed to withstand extraordinary punishing recoil energy generated in airguns." I shit you not. It ran me about $60. Also running me $60 were the Leupold QRW rings I bought to mount it. I wanted the QRW's so I can swap sights while maintaining zero.
All mounted up and ready to go.

The adjustable power factor is nice to have, but considering this is a race rifle, could there have been a different way to go? Well, bearing in mind that I don't know when I'll get back to the range, I threw a couple of other sights in my range box: a Bushnell 1-MOA Holosight and a Trijicon ACOG Reflex sight. I really like the ACOG better, but the dot is so much bigger than the Bushnell that it proved its weakness at the range. Both are damn nice pieces of equipment, and I'm glad I own them. Both provide excellent head-up target aqcuisition and reliably hold their zeroes. I've never had any of the recoil/zero/parallax problems associated with cheaper dot sights (I had the ACOG on a Mini-14 and the Bushnell on a Mossberg 500) with either of these. To see more about dot sights, visit Mr Completely.

Ok, so I get to the range, deal with some dickheads and start to get sighted in. It is at this point that I realize how nice it is to have a variable power scope to mess with. The gun store dude tried to convince me I needed a 4x fixed for this gun rather than a variable. I have fixed 10x's on my hunting rifles so I know the advantages, but this was to be an experiment. 12x proved to be just about right for 50yd distances with a nice crisp reticle that would easily quarter the 1-inch dots I was shooting at. I managed to get some sandbags from the marksmen with their heavy caliber uber-magnumthumpers, and got set up for some serious shooting.

I brought a ton of ammo of different types with me to try out, but I got it on paper with good ol' fashioned CCI Mi
nimags. After I got a decent group out of those, I started playing around with the other stuff I brought. The first thing I noticed was how soft and smooth the bolt cycled. Nothing I've read indicated that TALO tuned this rifle at all, but it really loved the standard velocity stuff that my Marlin 60 normally rejects. Later, when I took it apart, I discovered a buffer that is not Ruger factory, so it may have been tuned.

It turns out that it doesn't like hypervelocity that much. I freely admit, it was probably shooter error - I know I slapped the trigge
r a few times - but the group was real loose if you include the 5 fliers (of a 10 shot string) but nice and tight if you discount them. It shot bulk ammo pretty well, eating up Remington Goldenbullet and American Eagle, with the AE stuff returning the best groups of bulk ammo. Federal bulk was garbage, routinely grouping worse and returning a 30-40% rate of FTE's and stovepipes. CCI Greentag returned the best groups of the day. (see above) I also tried Aguila Sniper Sub-Sonic ammo. 60gr bullets on .22 short cases, they cycled well, achieved ~980fps velocities and shot OK, but man...STINKY!! Cheap Mexican propellant made my eyes water and my nose wrinkle, which probably affected my shooting. I also had two keyholes with these, which is kinda weird and unacceptable. So here's the targets.

The mil-dots are nice. It works out that with the Stinger ammo, I hold one dot low at 50yd and I get the X-ring, and with the Aguila I hold one dot high and get the X-ring. All in all, I think the cheap scope experiment worked out pretty well. I'll just have to see if it will continue to stand up to the "harsh recoil" of the .22.

I ran out of battery power in my camera before I could take shots of the rifle wearing the other sights or the targets I turned in. Suffice it say my qualms about the ACOG's 6MOA dot were realized, and the Bushnell will be my choice for plinking and varmint control with this bad boy.

Final word: I'm very pleased. Now I can get back to working on fundamentals and concentrating on not screwing up without it costing $1/rd. And, on my first range session with this gun, I turned in a sub-MOA group in "one ragged hole" which is exactly what I set out to do, even with the constant concussions around me. (The last guy to show up next to me was shooting a Marlin 1895G like mine, a .45-70 at 50 yds...distracting.) Next time I get to the range I'm going to try the 100yd lane and shoot the newest Rifle e-Postal match while I'm at it.