7. September, 2009 - a good day at the range

Had a good day out at the range yesterday. I took my new rifle out for the first time, and had five different kinds of ammunition. I had two goals. The first was to get the new scope close to zeroed. The second was to figure out which brand of ammunition my rifle liked best.

The Equipment

I started out with some relatively cheap HSM ammunition and on the 100 yard range (which is actually 106 yards), just trying to “get on the paper.” Glad I was using the cheap stuff, because the first shot I actually did get on the paper was about a foot right and eight inches high of where I was aiming. It took me eight shots just to put one on the paper because I thought we’d done a better job of bore-sighting than that.

Second best group
Second best group

Once I got the scope dialed so I was within a couple inches of where I was aiming (with another mishap as I dialed the scope the wrong direction - D’Ohh!), I shot for a group, and was very disappointed. A 3-4″ five-shot group was the best I could do. Clearly something was amiss. So I switched ammunition to some Hornady, and got my second-best group of the entire day. I was a little confused at first because I wasn’t sure if the first two holes (near the center of that group) was a single hole, or two overlapping, so this group might have been a little wider than I could have shot, since I held just a smidge different for the following shots.

Now that I knew things were working. I shot a couple five-shot groups with each of the different brands of ammunition I brought to compare them. I had three different bullet weights, from four different manufacturers, and wanted to see what worked best.

Best Group
Best Group

My experience with the Winchester Super-X brand in the past has been that it’s good, but is seldom the best choice available. Well, that’s changed. When I started shooting the 34 grain Super-Xes, I shot a group that really had me staring through the scope, trying to figure if I was missing the paper entirely, or just enlarging the first hole I’d put on the paper. But I ended up with a four-shot group that measured 0.34″ (or 8.6mm). With a .204 caliber bullet (5.2mm), it’s no wonder I had trouble seeing the individual holes from a hundred yards away. And there was one flyer that I knew was off-target as soon as I touched the trigger. Can’t blame the ammunition for that one — the problem was entirely mine.

The only snag is that I seem to have bought one of the last boxes of this particular load that’s available locally. Folks are mostly sold out of it, and Cabela’s is back-ordered on it. So I stocked up on some of the Hornady 40 grainers, which gave me the second-best group of the day. That’s still plenty good, and the heavier bullet should blow around less on windy days, so it may be a better choice in the end.

So today I’ve got some cleaning to do. And perhaps some shopping. Next time I get out, I expect to spend the day on the 200 yard range, and get dialed in for one of these two types of ammuntion. With the scope I have, and the caliber I’m shooting, that should enable me to hit targets at ranges from 200 to 400 yards with no adjustments to the scope (just holding over using the reticle). Maybe even out to 500. I’ll have to work out the ballistic tables one of these evenings, too.

Copyright 2009, Dave Polaschek. Last updated on Mon, 15 Feb 2010 14:02:39.