Saturday, January 19, 2008

Range Report 19 January 2008

Yes, Virginia, it was a cold one. I arrived at Lee Kay around 0915 to find that there were already twenty or thirty cars in the lot. It turned out that Hunter Education students would be shooting their qualification exams all day long.

Last Tuesday I had commitments from four folks to show up and shoot. I couldn't confirm anyone last night and ended up shooting solo this morning. Mrs. Tmj Does Not Do Teh Cold and the goddesses have been spooling up for THE BIG DANCE all week. One of my coworkers called me at 1130 to let me know he'd slept through his alarm, but I was almost packed up by then. Coaching strangers is all well and good but once in a while it does no harm to confirm the friends' and neighbors' suspicions....

I ended up breaking in the two newest Mosins: Model 91/59 built on a 1937 Izhvesk and the 1943 retired Tula PU sniper.

Temperature at 0930 was 24f, light overcast, with light wind coming mostly from behind, or blowing west, since the firing line runs generally north - south. I decided to shoot for zero at 25 yards using a fore stock rest from a seated position. I had intended to move over to the hundred/two hundred yard ranges if things looked promising but I ended up coaching some kids practicing for their Hunter Safety shoot.

If you don't have a headspace gage or access to a smith who does, it is necessary to treat "new" milsurps gingerly. Since both these weapons are new (to me) I opened the ball for each by loading one round of my crappiest old combloc ammo (Russian/Barnul brass case light ball, 1951 production) then bracing the wrist of the stock between two sandbags. I then fired a blind round while crouched beneath the table. It's clunky and looks funny, but then again so does walking around with an improperly - fit bolt sticking out of your forehead. In the field I'd normally just lash the rifle to a spare tire and fire it with a string.

This is the final target for the 91/59:

I was mighty pleased with this one. The ammunition used here was Albanian light ball, and I've been happy with it in all my Russkis. The trigger has reasonable travel and breaks very clean and light for a Mosin.

The Tula retired PU doesn't have a great trigger, but then this is RUSSIAN rifle. GOOD is just fine:

I had a case failure the second round after the "sandbag proof" round. Nothing spectacular - just some gas venting back around the bolt. Most of the ammo I shoot in these is from the nineteen fifties so some slop is going to happen. I puttered around on one target to warm the barrel, then shot the final target (shown above) using eighties manufacture Czech light ball (silver tip). The wind had come up a bit but at twenty five yards it would really have to howl to make a huge difference. It was cold...

... but that's when Mosins are at their best. That's four groups of three on the target: The dime group was aimed at six o'clock on the orange dot with rear sight set for 500 yards. The quarter group was aimed at the same point with 100 yards set on the rear sight. The other two groups were shot offhand and kind of hung out a bit wider and more right.

I am saving pennies for a repro PU mount/scope combo. The PU is going into the gunsmith next week for a formal headspace check and I am getting the bolts turned down on both rifles. The 91/59 will move into my pickup as soon as the bolt is done.

Not a bad day. Got home just before noon, cleaned up and put away, and here I am. I hope yours was good, too.

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