Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Range Report

I picked up another Mosin 91/30 retired PU sniper on Monday. This latest example is a '43 Izhevsk manufacture that appears to be sitting in its original sniper stock; there are very good repairs to the left side of the receiver where the scope mount base used to be, and there are brass shims present on the bearing surfaces inside the stock. Original crown on the barrel, good rifling (more on this below), and a long, heavy, but sweetly breaking trigger. It has a matching number straight bolt of Tula manufacture that works remarkably smoothly.

I sold the High Command (Mrs. Tmj) on the purchase by pledging to sell two of my less-favored milsurps, specifically my Swiss K31 carbine and my Savage-manufacture SMLE No4mk1 (plus whatever rounds for each that I have on hand). I may possibly put up one of my standard 91/30's as a price leader. All of these weapons shoot "minute of Nazi" or better with decent ammunition.

They will be up on classifieds by the weekend.

Yesterday I headed up to the Provo range to check out the new Mosin and generate some targets to include with the adverts for the rifles I intend to sell. Sighting conditions were marginal and deteriorated as the lowering sun was shined low across the firing line from right to left. I arrived with one and a half hours in which to shoot groups for three rifles.

I fired between ten and twenty shots each from the K31 and SMLE, starting with a throw away barrel warmer dumped into the dead paper on a target at 50 yards and then an initial sighting group at the bull on that 50 yard target. Then I fired for representative groups at a standard NRA small bore rifle 100 yard target, holding at six on the bull. The light by this time was sleeting across the genuinely marginal sights on these rifles and I had to dig my pirate patch out in order to lessen the eye strain I was experiencing trying to achieve good sight picture/sight alignment with 47 year old eyes.

Everything ended up on the paper, though, with both rifles:

I am selling off these particular weapons because their ergonomics (specifically the sights) don't match my preferences, because I need to knock back on the number of calibers for which I have to stock or make ammunition, and to allow me to concentrate on my (sad, shameless, and growing) Mosin addiction interest.

And now a bit on the new Mosin. The first four shots were fired at the 50 yard sighter target, with an opener to warm up the barrel aimed at the center bottom edge of the target and three aimed in earnest at the bull center.

It looked like this:

Lo, the Bulgarian Light Ball functioned well, the bolt did not stick, and the three rounds fell under a fifty cent piece even with Mr. Twilight seriously screwing up the sight situation. And it was good.

There was a moment of comic relief: The target holders at the range don't line up all that well with the firing points. The gentleman one firing position to my right didn't know that I was shooting at both 50 and 100 yard distances and he had hung an orange scope sighting target in the center of one of the three paper targets I'd put up on the 100 yard holder. I fired my first shot from the Mosin at that target, and wrote off the difficulty I had in getting a good sharp looking bull over the front sight post as a byproduct of the failing light. The other shooter asked if I was indeed shooting at that target, and I said yes and explained why, and he apologized for having made the mistake in hanging his paper.

He had run out of the load for which his 300 mag was sighted for with his last shot just prior to me putting my first round on the target. (His last two good shots are in the four quadrant of the sighter target he put up.) He spent the rest of his night trying to zero with another brand. I watched through my sighting scope as he tried to put any more bullets on the target, but in vain. Those hyper-velocity .30 cal rounds vary hugely in point of zero between different loads. After he was done firing his scoped, bedded, muzzle braked rifle, I fired three more rounds at the target. This is what it looked like:

Those are my four in the black, quadrants 1 to 3. With open sights. At a hundred yards. At twilight.

And it was better than good. Lo, yea, verily, zounds, etc, etc, etc....

Now to the rifling: I haven't yet slugged any of my barrels, but the common thread between all my Mosins is that they seem to have been rifled with a plow. Seriously. The lands may appear less than razor sharp but you could plant potatoes in the grooves. I did my preliminary cleanup of all three rifles last night, to include boiling water down the bore and over the bolt of the Mosin in order to counter the corrosive qualities of the priming compounds in the surplus ammo. Then I brushed hard with a poly brush and bore cleaner, and then punched with alternating wet/dry patches (bore cleaner) until I started seeing mostly-clean flannel.

This morning I pushed a CLP-soaked patch on jag from the breech to the muzzle on each of the three rifles. The K31 and Enfield patches came out almost white. The Mosin patch came out blacker than truck stop coffee, with stark green lines indicating oxidized gilding material still embedded in the rifling. So out came the Barnes copper/lead/powder solvent out and I followed the label directions for almost twenty minutes. The bore might be clean now... but I won't know until I punch it tonight or tomorrow after it has had a further chance to soak in CLP.

The more I shoot Mosins the more I appreciate the engineering elegance in the base design. This elegance survived and excelled even after decades of Soviet influence on the production of the weapons themselves.

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