Sunday, April 29, 2012

No excuses.... the Ruger 10/22 Target model


Sometimes, a rifle 'wants' to shoot. Picking it up and putting it to shoulder seems natural. Holding it steady on target, appears easy. Squeezing off a shot, only to see a hole almost magically happen exactly where it was pointed.... like it was meant to be.

It could be an ancient Mauser, bearing the ghosts of soldiers long marched away. Perhaps, a family hunting rifle, passed down from father to son, uncle to nephew, or mother to daughter. Rarely, it's a new piece, just removed from box or case.

This time, the rifle that 'wants to shoot', is a Ruger 10/22 target version. Its in satin stainless with a brown laminate stock and a spiral forged heavy barrel... this weapon simply shoots straight. Not a little straight, and not 'good groups', but straight. The bullets fly so true that 'groups' of one slightly wide hole could easily be the norm.

This rifle came to Carteach, pleased old man that he is, from a new local gun shop (To be featured in a later article... a fascinating place!). It's destined to be used at an upcoming Appleseed event, where I expect it to earn it's name.

Yes... name. Sometimes rifles get names.

Years of trigger time, match after match, earned my ancient Turkish Mauser the name 'Grand Old Turk'. It took only one match for my Garand, gifted to me by a true gentleman, to earn the name 'Liberty'.

This rifle, the Ruger 10/22 target model laying there on my sofa, after only a few days of shooting... it has a name now too. Soon it will be an earned name as well.

This one.... I call 'No Excuses'.

My overall impression, besides the almost disgusted and gushing happiness, is a pretty good one. I have been looking at Ruger 10/22 rifles ever since the last Appleseed seminar I attended. I like the idea of the rifle (I've owned them in the past, but have given them away over the years). As an Appleseed rifle, the 10/22 has much going for it.

On the other hand, to extract the best accuracy from one, it's almost like my daddy's axe. You know the one... the axe that's SO good it's had twelve new handles and three new heads since he's owned it. Ruger 10/22's have so many possible aftermarket options and accuracy upgrades, one can be left with nothing original but the receiver.... and those are available too.

As an accuracy rifle to be used in positions with a sling, I'd expect a standard 10/22 to need a bit of work. New Tech-sights to start with, and then a new Hornet Trigger Assembly as well. Good sights an
d a good trigger... must haves for truly accurate shooting. Next, since I'm a big guy, a new Stock would be needed.

One can see where this swapping out of parts towards an 'ideal' target rifle can rapidly get out of hand, and be VERY expensive.

With that idea in mind, I took a chance in handling the 10/22 target model at the store.... and very quickly discover
ed that it already had just about everything I could possible want in a .22 target rifle. Decent stock, excellent trigger, very heavy target grade bull barrel, sling swivels, and it even comes in low maintenance stainless steel.

The target model comes sans sights, and this is okay by me. My aging eyes really benefit from optics, and while I strive to master iron sights to the best of my ability, I've been forced to acknowledge I shoot better with some form of optics. The Target model comes with a drilled and tapped receiver, and a bolt on Weaver mounting rail. To this I attached an Eotech 512, as a sighting aid for the next Appleseed. That's what was used to shoot the target above.... shot at 40 feet from a simple rest on a porch railing.

One day soon I'll bolt on a big scope, and put this rifle on a solid rest... and see what it can really do.

I bought myself this tackdriver, and to someone looking for a rifle of this type, I can heartily recommend it... with one caveat. There will be no more excuses for missing, as this thing is a bloody laser.

No Excuses.....

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A-Zoom dummy rounds..... A Carteach0 contest with a prize!

So there I was.... browsing in a brand new Fun Shop, when suddenly it called to me. "Here I am.... Over here! Look over here...... pick me up.... hold me in your arms.... Try my trigger...."

Now, Carteach asks permission before he dry fires a weapon. When it's a rimfire, a "No" brings no hard feelings, because Carteach is no 'Rimfire Dummy'. On older rimfire firearms, dry firing can and will smash the firing pin into the face of the breech, damaging both. Many, if not most, new rimfire weapons have corrected this in their design. That said... snap caps and dummy rounds assure that no damage will occur to the mechanism, and are worth using.

So, Carteach was provided with a pack of these A-Zoom 22 Lr Action Proving Dummy Rounds in order to try the trigger on the siren singing to me from across the counter. While the A-zoom solid aluminum dummy rounds are not really snap caps, they do serve acceptably as such in my experience. Even better, they function perfectly through the action, letting the shooter practice the entire manual of arms in a dry fire session.

I did try the trigger, and promptly handed the rifle back to the nice lady, along with my drivers license for the NICS check. That sneaky slinky little .22 was with me when I left the shop.

Here's where the contest comes in: The first person who can guess (In comments) what the rifle is, and does so the most accurately, will win a pack of A-Zoom 22 Lr Action Proving Dummy Rounds .

Let the guessing begin!

As for me, I have a vegetable bed to weed, a truckload of mulch to spread, a scope to mount, and a new rifle to sight in!

(Update.... a hint is requested)

Okay.... here is the target shot with the first five rounds ever fired from the rifle. The distance was only 36 feet and it was fired using the back porch railing as a rest, after installing an Eotech as a sighting device. The target dot measures an inch, and those are .22 rimfire bullet holes.

Corroded Mil-Surp ammo.... a Look Inside

Recently, I had cause to root through some ammunition that was stored away. It was the dribs and drabs accumulated over years, but came to a fair pile (Okay,,, it filled the living room floor...). It was ammunition from firearms I've owned and since traded or sold away. Some are hand loads built for special purposes or to demonstrate an idea, and there's some ammunition for guns I've never owned... and even I wonder where that came from.

I was seeking something in particular, and found it. Along the way I found more... and it triggered questions.

Here, I picture a box of .303 British ammunition that came to me as part of a larger deal. I bought the tools and supplies of a fellow reloader who had departed the mortal world. This box was in the treasure, but I never gave it a lot of thought. I just tucked it away....

One morning I spent a few minutes looking at the cartridges and thinking. Yes, I own an Enfie
ld #4 in .303, but these were too old for me to consider shooting. More to the point, some day a collector might enjoy these more than I.

A few of the cases were beyond collecting, due to corrosion, and I wondered what effect this had on the inside of the shell and it's load of powder. Not one to shy away from slicing up things to see how they tick, off to the bench I went!

(note... they were in this condition when I got them, one reason they got stored away)

I pulled the bullet using an RCBS Bullet Puller mounted in my RCBS Ammomaster press , but it did not come free easily. It was corroded to the case quite severely. That press has served me well for decades, and has the leverage and strength to utterly flatten a belted magnum case in the blink of an eye... but it still took some real effort to unseat this bullet.

Attempting to dump the powder (I was hoping for cordite strands!) I found the powder clumped and sticky. It had to be stirred with a probe to be removed from the case. Clearly it was well past usability.

I sliced the base off the case with a diamond saw running in water based lube. I'd rather not have used the water cooling on the saw, but the case had a live berdan primer and I was unwilling to be nicknamed 'One Eye' the rest of my life.

I found the holes for the berdan priming system to be corroded completely shut. On top of that, the corrosion had penetrated the side of the brass cartridge and was much worse on the inside than out. Powder had caked to the case wall in the corrosion, and the inside of the case was a mass of scale.

I've been tempted in the past to shoot surplus ammunition that had a few corroded spot on it, but always passed. Certainly I've seen plenty of it for sale over the years as well.

Now, after seeing this for myself, I'm glad I didn't try it those times. What I found on the inside of the case was much worse than could be viewed just looking at a whole cartridge.

Sure, cleaning it up to be fired might just have meant a misfire, but it could be worse. Powder changes chemistry with time and poor storage, and brass cases can give up, leaving an unsealed chamber. Both issues are dangerous.

No, I'll pass on shooting corroded ammunition, and I'll pass on reloading cases that have spot of corrosion on them. That seems the only safe course, especially after seeing this.

Oh... and let me add.... BLECH!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A question regarding an AR carry handle scope mount...

Carteach is considering an AR carry handle scope mount like the one shown above. The idea being the ability to temporarily tack on a scope during load development. Not a permanent set up... in fact it would probably go on/off right at the bench. Plunk it on, shoot groups for testing, and it comes off to go back into the range bag.

I'm opening this up to Carteach readers. Thoughts? Have a better idea to share?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Target .22 considerations......

Shooting the Appleseed event has left a taste for more of the same. I'll speak of the history lessons another time (I Promise), but for now I'll describe a minor quandary 'Ol Carteach is in.

The marksmanship course is shot at 25 meters, and I can hear you thinking.... "25 meters?? You have to be kidding me! I can spit that far and make bulls-eyes!"

Think again. The 5 point score area of the target is just four MOA.... or one inch at 25 meters. Shooting a .22, that means your target is only four times as wide as the bullet itself. Now.... do that for forty rounds straight. THAT puts it in perspective! Max score is 250 points, and it takes 210 to make Rifleman.

Funny thing is... with Appleseed basic marksmanship training, that is entirely do-able.

Today found me on the back patio of Castle Carteach, putting rounds down range at my state of the art shooting facility (The wood pile out back). The target above demonstrates my quandary.....

An Appleseed means shooting... and lots of it. I burned 400 rounds this past weekend, and that's with sitting out a few AQT's to rest my old bones. The round count pretty much shoots down the idea of doing it with centerfire, for me. I've blown the dust out of my cash box.... and all I got for the effort is a coughing fit.

So.... a .22 rimfire. I own two now that are somewhat appropriate, although both have flaws. One, the M&P 15-22 I qualified with, is very short, very light, very fun, very accurate, and somewhat difficult to operate at that level. It absolutely DESPISES being fired with a sling, and mine will string the shots unmercifully with sling pressure applied. Also, the short sight radius of the fun little rifle turns out to be an extreme challenge for my aging bifocaled eyes. I qualified rifleman with that weapon, but did so with an Eotech holographic sight mounted on it, and no sling.

Rifle #2 is a CZ452 trainer bolt action, with a loooong barrel, excellent open sights, and a respectably good trigger. It's downsides.... magazines cost over $30 each, and of all the slings I own.... not a single one fits the CZ. I will have to order a 3/4" shooting sling. The bolt action is slow for the timed rapid fire, but I am comfortable with operating it under such conditions.

Looking towards an Appleseed 'level' of marksmanship in a .22 rimfire rifle, I guess I have three choices.....

*Make do with the M&P's limitations, and just man up to deal with them....
*Buy a new sling and a few CZ magazines made from compressed unicorn tears and unobtanium...
*Build a whole new rifle for myself, perhaps on the Ruger 10-22 platform.

My goal is to better that 210 score, and do so consistently. I'm at peace with doing it with an optics mounted rifle, but I'd be happier of I can make it with irons.

Choices.... choices......

Friday, April 20, 2012

After Appleseed.... lets see what I can do in next months match!

As has been mentioned here before, I am quite happy to take part in my local club's ‘Military Rifle Shoots’. These are patterned directly on DCM High Power shoots, except each month’s shoot has a ‘theme’ to the rifles used.
These can vary from pre-1900 to Vietnam era, to Battle of the Bulge or bolt action only.
While I have shot the match with a Swiss K-31 and a Mosin 91/30, my preference is to use one of my old Turkish Mausers. The rifle was not bought with the matches in mind, but over the years it has evolved into the rifle I most shoot that special day of the month.

This old beast was found at a gun show, many years ago when every show had tables full of Turk Mausers for surprisingly cheap prices. Many were worn out, but some had serious promise under the ‘Turkmoline’ rust proofing. Mil-Surp collectors have long conjectured about the substance used by the sons of the Turk to store rifles. Cosmoline is typical of the era, and nasty stuff in its own right. The Turks seem to have gone that one better and mixed Cosmoline with camel dung, along with sand and ground up old sheep bladders. In any case, it’s a bear to clean up… and my Grand Old Turk was no different.

I selected this one from a table full, based on the condition of the metal. There were no serious flaws evident, and the bluing was decent. Handing it to the dealer, I told him if he could show me the bore had good rifling then I’d buy the rifle. I suspect he regretted saying yes, as the plug of grease he pushed from the bore must have weighed three pounds and smelled worse than a high school gym locker. Yet, the bore looked pristine, and I plunked down the $95 asking price with a happy smile on my face. A smile made even wider by the faint 'GEW 98' almost polished off the receiver, showing it to be a rebuilt German rifle of outstanding quality.
I stripped the rifle to its smallest piece and soaked the metal overnight in kerosene. The next day the bolt, action, and barrel came clean with only minute’s work. The stock had to be chemically stripped, and scrubbed in a bath of very hot water and detergent. Having a large assortment of dents, dings, gouges, and battle scars… I was not looking for pristine wood. My goal was solid, straight, and as original as possible. Once the wood was cleaned (several times) it got a simple linseed oil finish and an hour’s rub down with a hard plastic dowel. This trick, taught to me by my father, made the wood smooth and shiny without sanding any away.

Detailed examination better revealed a problem I had noted at the dealers table. The safety would not engage correctly because the bolt shroud had too much wear. I knew it was like this when I bought it, but had no fears. The scrounge box had several shrouds and it was simply a matter of finding the best fit. A little light file work and polishing, and the safety worked exactly as designed.

The bolt had other issues, but minor ones. The main spring was replaced with a 24 pound modern replacement, and the striker was slightly modified for more consistent ignition. This brought the firing pin protrusion into specs.

Assembled again, the rifle was test fired on the range and immediately showed excellent promise. The first groups with surplus ammunition gave surprisingly good groups. Good enough to cause some thoughts.

With an ‘ugly duckling’ match rifle in mind, I set out to make some changes to the rifle. Nothing major was done and certainly nothing visible except to a discerning eye. My goal was to make it a ‘sleeper’ of a rifle; One that would not get a second glance in the rack, but still allow me to compete with the folks shooting expensive rifles. Nobody expects a 1938 Turkish Mauser to be a match rifle, and the Grand Old Turk is no exception to that. That said… after a few years shooting it in the match, it gets respect now and has nothing left to prove. As for me, I get pleasure competing against $1000 Garands and Springfields while shooting a lowly $100 Turkish Mauser. My 400/500 score is every bit as good as theirs, but mine is $900 cheaper.

To make it a match shooting rifle, some areas needed attention. Specifically, the sights were simply not up to the job, nor was the trigger. Turn of the century battle sights did not serve well on the target line, and the rough old military trigger made for a fight trying to control it at let off. 

The rear sight was replaced with another from the scrounge box. The original sight was greased, bagged, and tagged to the rifle. Not that this old beast could be called a collectors item, but it did have matching numbers and I preferred to modify other parts than what it came with. For the most part, I can return the rifle to the way I bought it with only a few minutes notice. That may not matter to some people, but I try to keep most of my old military rifles as original and unaltered as possible.
The original Mauser rear sights of this era have a minuscule ‘V’notch mounted with a sliding sight adjuster. It moves up a marked ramp for elevation, fitting detents along the way. I found this problematic, as the ‘V’ notch did not allow me to align the sights on the target as closely as I wished. To fix this, the sight I installed had the ‘V’ notch filed into a square shaped notch, with straight sides and a square top.

The front sight was an inverted ‘V’, and built so low that the rifle shot 12” high with its closest sight setting. I replaced the original front sight insert with one from a Czech VZ-24 Mauser rifle, it being much taller than the Turk front sight. While the VZ-24 was also an inverted ‘V’, it was tall enough that I could dress its top flat with a file, giving me a flat top front sight to align with the square notch rear sight.
An added advantage of the taller front sight is what it did to my rear sight. I had to raise the rear sight to its 600 meter graduation to hit point of aim at 100 yards. This brought the rear sight up out its stock channel and well into my field of vision. The higher rear sight also allowed me to take a better position when firing off hand, keeping my head more upright.

Tweaking the trigger presented me with several options, but I chose one that served me well in the past. I could have gone with a Huber trigger, or simply invested a few hours into a standard Mauser trigger and installed a stop, along with honing it. Instead I installed a Timney Sportsman trigger. I chose the Sportsman over the target trigger solely due to price, with the target trigger costing several times the sportsman.
Yes, I had to cut away some wood inside the ancient grease riddled Turkish stock, but since the overall condition could best be described as ‘incredibly well used’ I didn’t lose any sleep over it. The after market trigger is almost impossible to notice without a very close inspection. Adjusted to a crisp two pounds, with a clean let off and all over travel dialed out, it serves this match rifle well.

The bedding was left as is, saving a tiny bit of carving around the recoil lug to free up its sides and bottom. The stock is a mile long, but so well made that it’s all but free floated in its full military trim.

The muzzle was addressed with an almost unnoticeable touch up to the crown; just enough to clean up any dings and give the bullet a clean exit point.
Lastly, a slip on Recoil Pad was installed, and fitted with adhesive abrasive tape where it meets my shoulder. This prevents the rifle from sliding around my shoulder as I desperately strive to control my breathing and get off clean shots. Perhaps such a pad is not truly kosher on a match rifle, but no one begrudges an old man a bit of comfort, especially as I ‘handicap’ myself with this ugly old Turkish Mauser. 

I don’t shoot with a sling, aperture sights, a shooting jacket, trick sunshade glasses, or even a mat on days when I forget it. All those high power accoutrements left behind, it’s just me, the rifle, and the ammunition I custom load for it. That’s the way I like it… challenging and fun!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Appleseed, two days of well spent time....


The Appleseed Project. What is it... and what is it all about?

The 'Ol Fat Man just got done a weekend Appleseed rifleman clinic, and is now happy to report out for the folks here on Carteach0.

Copied in whole from the Appleseed web site:

"The Revolutionary War Veterans Association is committed to renewing civic virtue - prioritizing civic responsibility over personal interests and indulgence. We are wholly comprised of volunteers who commit time, resources and passion toward achieving the RWVA mission. As a 501(c)3 organization, we promote civic responsibility through the teaching of colonial history and the American tradition of rifle marksmanship in a safe, non-partisan environment."

From my experience this weekend, that is exactly what Appleseed does. It's an effort to ignite the hearts and minds of Americans through the teaching of history, and basic marksmanship skills. At the time of the American Revolution, the people of this nation were unique in the world, and part of that was wrapped up in the way we fought the war... as individual soldiers, each tasked as a 'rifleman', and each tasked to use their ingenuity and skills to bring down the enemies of their homeland. Actual 'rifles' saw very little use in the Revolution, but the skills involved in being an individual marksman certainly did.

Where just about every other nation in the world treated their soldiers as automatons to be directed in every action, en-masse, the fledgling United States depended on it's citizen soldiers to act with individual intelligence, and an understanding and belief of what they were doing and why. This meant one man.... one lone elderly American....
with no orders and no help, could harry, harass, and slow an entire column of British troops . Before the British troops could be formed into ranks as ordered, present arms as ordered, and fire as ordered.... that American militiaman had fired on the column, downed several enemy soldiers, and ridden away to wait around another bend in the road.

This very act set the United States apart from all others. The idea that every man and woman was an individual thinking intelligent citizen and could decide for themselves the best course of action against an aggressor... this idea was foreign to every major nation at the time.

It's this uniquely American attitude and tradition which Appleseed reminds us of.

Each Appleseed event is part history, and part rifleman instruction. Invaluable skills are taught to shooters both young and old, with rest breaks involving stories and lessons from history, all centered around a particular date. April 19th... the day of 'Paul Revere's Ride', and what it means to us as Americans.

The instructors at every Appleseed event are volunteers. They don't spring forth from the ground in shooting jackets, patches, and red hats.... they have to train and earn the instructor hats they wear. An Appleseed seminar is not a walk in the park... it's hard work, and doubly so for the instructors. Still, they give their time, effort, and skill.... in the tradition begun by Americas first citizen soldiers and militia.... as individuals doing what they believe is right.

Now... follow along in images as we walk through 'Ol Carteach's weekend at Appleseed!

Most of the history taught at Appleseed comes from this heavily documented book, Paul Revere's Ride . Based on first hand primary sources from the time, it's a riveting story taken from the inception of our nation.

A goal for every participant, The Rifleman Patch. There are several variations, and some of the various Appleseed branches have their own, but the rules are the same. Firing 40 rounds from positions, a score of at least 210/250 on a special course of fire called an 'AQT' will earn a shooter the treasured Rifleman Patch. The skills taught by the Appleseed instructors go straight towards earning this honor, but it's entirely up to the skill and dedication of the shooter after that.

The Red Coat target..... the first target fired at days beginning, and the last at days end. All fired prone, the sillouette represents an enemy soldier at ranges from 100 yards to 400 yards... with a special tiny square to represent 'The Bucket'. The bucket, or a wooden board of the same size, was the marksmanship test used as a gateway for a soldier to join 'Daniel Morgan’s Rifles'. The target (often a bucket the size of a mans head) was placed 250 yards away. The soldier had one shot, cold, to hit that bucket. If he did, he earned the right to join Morgan's Rifles, and march 600 miles from home and engage in battle with the British. At the time, British soldiers were considered accurate in fire out to 50 yards, and relied on en-masse volley fire past that.

The Red Coat target honors that history, and serves to judge an Appleseed participants increase in skill as training progresses.

Basic marksmanship skills are the very foundation of being a rifleman. Appleseed starts from square one, and reviews the skills in detail.

Gary Ritter (Roverace on the Appleseed forum) and Michael-Angel0 Laffredo (MAL) instruct the group in basic skills, working as a team to demonstrate proper positions.

Zeroing a rifle, done in a logical and scientific manner. Each tiny square represents one MOA, or roughly one inch at 100 yards. Since Appleseed is taught at 25 meters (pretty much 25 yards), the lesson directly translates into shooting at longer ranges.

Every detail useful to both new and experienced shooter is pointed out, taught, and later drilled in live fire practice. Three basic positions are taught... off-hand, seated/kneeling, and prone. In each position, sling use, natural point of aim, breathing control, and sighting are all brought into play. The basic skills of a rifleman.

Appleseed is a wonderful event for families. Fathers, mothers, grandparents, and kids... they all work together and learn together. Even an old Marine, having world class training in his past, benefits from the refresher course. For young people fairly new to shooting, building this foundation now before poor habits set in.... invaluable.

These young men received special awards, and applause from the group. Both were marked by burns from hot shell casings landing on them, yet each maintained perfect composure and muzzle discipline. The young man to the right has (for the next few days anyway) a perfectly recognizable shape of a 5.56 casing on his arm. I have never envied anyone a burn before, and should I ever get a tattoo.... it would be of that mark. Well Done young men, well done!

Range Boss Greg Harbaugh, having driven from hours away just to volunteer at the shoot... took special pains to enliven the historical aspects of the Appleseed event. He brought with him a Pennsylvania Long Rifle, and donned some costume to go with it. Using the students attention, he explain the differences between rifle and musket, and what it meant to the American militia.

Then... he loaded and fired that flintlock smoke pole, and invited others to try it as well. Yes... the 'Ol Fat man happily lined up with the kids for this one! I'm proud to report... a big cloud of smoke and one less Red Coat soldier.

Bragging time.... the image above is Greg awarding my rifleman's patch. The first AQT (Army Qualification Target) of the second day, I scored high enough to win the patch. Yes.... that is me smiling. Don't get all excited, it doesn't happen often.

And..... as Michael-Angelo Laffredo demonstrates.... there apparently is some weird tradition in Appleseed. If a shooter scores rifleman with exactly '210', he is baptized with water from The North Bridge, a central part of the history of April 19th. It's at the North Bridge where a group of American Militia routed an entire company of British soldiers, simply by employing their marksmanship skills.

Above, we see Mal inundating... er... 'annointing' 'Ol Carteach with said water, which bore a striking resemblance to freezing cold ice water straight from the cooler.

That's Appleseed. Do it.... you won't be sorry. Carteach's word on that.