Saturday, February 14, 2009


I got to shoot today. It strange how punching 30 caliber holes in paper can be so relaxing.

I loaded 5 rounds of .308 in the military surplus cases and ran a pressure test. I capped off 5 rounds with no slam-fires or anything else out of the ordinary. I've upped the powder a full grain, and will test another 5 hopefully tomorrow.

I also picked up 180 grain HPBT bullets so I can check them out. I fully intend on trying to do an egg shoot soon. The 180 grain bullets resist wind a little bit better, so I'm evaluating them against the 168 grain bullets I've been using. It's not a real test, as I'm still only shooting 100 yards, but if all goes well I'll be joining a club with a 300 or 500 range rifle course soon.

I was impressed with the rounds that came out of the M1A. They weren't dinged to all hell, and they didn't need much in the way of resizing. If I'm lucky that means I can use them over and over. I need to check the item # on my dies, I suspect I have the small base sizing die already.

I've recently watched Todd Bender's video on skeet shooting. Today was a chance to apply some of the things he talks about in the videos. I didn't do any better overall, but I am much more confident on stations 1, 2, 6, & 7. If you have never shot skeet, give it a try. With the right group of people it's a LOT of fun.

Now I'm going to ramble on a little bit about synergy. I feel very strongly that shooting shotgun makes me a better rifle and pistol shooter. Likewise shooting rifle makes me a better pistol and shotgun shooter. It may seem a bit counter-intuitive. After all, what does shooting a scattergun have to do with shooting a rifle? Well in Skeet you need to lead your target, have a solid shooting platform and good follow-through. Now If I need to shoot a mutant ninja zombie in the a car as he is driving by, then those skills learned in skeet shooting will be quite applicable. Likewise from rifle and pistol you need to learn about bullet drop, and the effects of the wind on your shot. In skeet, you have the wind affecting your target, but the wind can also blow around your shot stream a little too. Although the pellets have a small surface area they are extremely light.

My friend recently came over and saw some targets from 50 and 100 yards I shot with my M1A. He was blown away with how tight my groups were. When I showed him my practice targets from the .22's he was leveled. He thinks I'm a better shot than he is with a rifle. And he's been in the reserves for 14 years and an active LEO. It was a great boost of confidence to me, as I think I suck.

The reason I think I suck is at these egg shoots they are shooting eggs at 200 and 300 yards. Eggs! what are they 2" x 1 1/4"? these guys are shooting 15 shots for 15 eggs. There is a lot that can go wrong with the bullet as it's zipping downrange for 300 yards. Most guys use 6mmBR's or .308's or even .338Magnums. I doubt I'll win, but it's the experience I am after. I am bound to pick up a few tips and tidbits while there that will make me a better shooter.

I am looking forward to the military and other shoots that will be held this summer. I got a gen 3 scope mount for the M1A on the way already, I need to sit down and figure out what to buy for a scope. I don't want to drop a lot of cake, but I want something that can take the beating of a semi-auto rifle. Matter of fact I think I'll do that now.


shiloh1862 said...

I have a Shepard's scope for my M1A. they are not cheap but I love it.


Bitmap said...

I wouldn't worry about the "beating of a semi-auto rifle" damaging your scope. Any decent scope intended for hunting big game with a centerfire rifle will be fine. I would worry more about getting a quality scope (costs more) that is not overpowered and oversized and overweight for what you need.

One problem you will have with scopes on an M1A is that the mounts put the scope up too high for most people to get a consistent cheek weld and your accuracy will suffer. The line of sight through the iron sights on an M1A is pretty close to ideal for the shape of the stock. Your scope will be quite a bit higher than that. You will probably want to add a cheek rest to get your face up to the right height for a scope.

The various scout mounts for the M1A (Amega, Ultimak, and the Springfield factory scout mount) are not as bad as the receiver mounts as far as height goes.

After you mount your scope try this little test:

1. Hold your rifle at low ready.

2. Look at a distant object, maybe 50 to 100 yards away. An abandoned barn, a boulder or a target on the holder at the rifle range will work.

3. Close your eyes.

4. With your eyes still closed mount your rifle and line up on the object you were looking at.

5. Open your eyes but don't move. Just look straight ahead.

6. Repeat this several times.

If you don't full field of view through the scope and it isn't lined up perfectly i.e. you have to make ANY adjustment in the position of your rifle or body, then your scope is not set up correctly for you on that rifle.

If everything isn't perfect then figure out if you need to move the scope up, down, forwards, or backwards or a combination of these.

When the scope is properly positioned you should be able to just see through it normally without any stress or movement.

Most of the time when people complain that scopes are slow it is because the scopes on the rifles they were using were not positioned properly for them. The other big problem is that many people put on a scope with too much magnification.

You should also repeat this test from sitting, braced kneeling, squatting, prone, and from various improvise positions with rests. The eye relief you need will be slightly different in each position so you need to make sure the scope is mounted where you can use any reasonable position.

Lower powered scopes typically have a wider eye relief range than higher powered scopes. If you have a variable then it will have a longer eye relief and a wider eye relief range on a lower power than at a higher power. That is something to think about. If you get a variable then I would run the test in each position at the highest and lowest magnification on the scope. Someone gave me a rifle with a 2-7x variable scope on it. I like the rifle and the scope but I cannot use it at 2x because the eye relief is so long at 2x that I haven't been able to find a mount that will put the scope far enough forward to work for me.

Another think to think about is the weight of the scope, rings, and mount. It is always important but the height of the scope on an M1A makes it especially important. A big scope will make the rifle handle like a dump truck. You may think that 6 or 8 oz. difference won't matter but it makes a big difference to me.

Good luck, stay safe, and have fun.

Bitmap said...

One other thing is that you get what you pay for. Quality scopes are not cheap up front but buying quality the first time is better than buying something cheap the first time, then having to buy quality later.

theotherryan said...

I really want an M1a. Another AR will come first (cursed practicality) then a beautiful M1a will come home with me. It will probably be a few years.